Budgeting for travel can be one of the most exciting parts of a trip – it’s the first step in the planning process, and a great way to get psyched about your destination as you start your research.
Though it can also be quite intimidating, especially if you’re traveling for the first time. There are a lot of costs involved and can be quite a lot to consider.
But it’s incredibly important to sit down and run numbers before you commit to taking a trip – there’s nothing worse than running out of money halfway through and having to max out your credit card, beg family and friends to send money, or clean toilets to cover the hotel bill (been there, done that, you don’t want to follow in my footsteps).
To help you out, use the following tips to budget for an upcoming trip.
Figure out How Much You’ll Need
Before you book anything, you’ll need to figure out how much you need to cover the whole trip. Don’t book flights before checking hotel costs, or you’ll end up stranded on an island having to fork out $700 a night for a room (at least I can tick “stay in a penthouse” off my bucketlist).
Questions to Ask Yourself
- How much money is available for the vacation?
- How much can you save between now and the trip?
- How many people are you traveling with?
- How long do you want to go?
- What type of holiday are you going on? Ie if you’re on a bus tour, are meals included?
- How much are flights?
- What are you willing to spend per night on accommodation?
- How much are you likely to spend on food? Does the hotel include free breakfast? Are there grocery stores nearby which you could hit up to buy lunch? Does the hotel include facilities for you to cook?
- How much are you likely to spend on transport? Can you walk to main attractions from your hotel? Do you have to catch taxi’s every day? Is public transportation efficient, like buses, metro or train?
- What are you willing to spend on extra activities?
- Give yourself a buffer for incidentals you haven’t thought of, like bank fees or credit card surcharges.
When determining what you can afford, you should keep in mind your ongoing expenses, like rent, utilities, subscriptions etc. You should make sure you’ve left yourself a buffer to cover any bills you receive when you return home.
Budget for Pre-Trip Costs
You might find that there are expenses associated with your trip before you leave, like travel insurance (which, unless you’re also budgeting for an accident fund, we highly recommend), visas, passport renewal, or immunizations.
You may be heading on a trip which requires specialized travel gear, or need to replace old luggage. Travel essentials like power adapters, a torch or a Swiss army knife might also be on your pre shopping list. If you’re planning on buying any big tech before the trip, like a new camera, or a GoPro, you should also factor this in.
Use Online Budgeting Tools & Apps
It’s important to collate the above information into an actual document that you can refer back to and look over at a glance. Organizing a budget in your head is a sure way to forget things and miscalculate.
There are a range of free online budgeting tools which will help you keep track like BudgetYourTrip.com and SavingForTravel.com, but you can also create something fairly easily on your computer – if you’re a fellow spreadsheet nerd, an Excel document will do just fine.
Tips for Saving
Once you’ve worked out the costs for your trip, many people find themselves in a position where their current finances come up short. This means you’ll have to set a savings goal.
One of the biggest tips for successful saving is to have a (realistic) figure you can work towards. Some people put this number on their fridge, some people set it as their computer screensaver; reminding yourself every day of what you’re working towards will help you stay motivated and keep your savings on track.
Write down your income, and make a detailed list of your regular expenses. Go through the list and identify the things you can cut back on. At this point, how much you’re able to save will come down to priorities. If you can deal without spending $15 every day on coffee, or cut out the cigarettes, alcohol, and avocado toast (I promise it tastes just as good when you make it at home), you may be surprised by how much you can save.
If you don’t hit your saving goal, you should revisit your budget and research money-saving tips for cutting down on costs while away. Or you can look at last minute travel loans if you know it’s within your means to pay it back after the trip.
Keeping Your Money Safe While Traveling
There’s no point in even creating a budget if you don’t keep your money safe throughout the trip. It’s important to take the following precautions.
Keeping Your Money Safe
- Don’t carry your wallet in your back pocket. It’s better in your front pocket which is more difficult to steal from.
- Money belts scream “tourist”, and this attracts pickpockets. Use a handbag or a wallet just as you would if you were at home, and blend in more as a local.
- Keep a list of emergency bank phone numbers should your credit or debit cards become lost or stolen. You will need to call your bank straight away to cancel and order a replacement.
- Divide your cash and cards and store these in different places. Split everything up into various pockets across different bags, and only carry your main credit cards and 1-2 days worth of cash with you in your wallet.
- In general, it’s a very bad idea to give money to people on the street. Under no circumstances should you change money or pull out large wads of cash in public.
- Organize the cash in your wallet monopoly style before you leave for the day, with like dominations together so you’re not flashing a wad of cash when looking for the correct change.
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