How to Plan a Budget for Travel

Traveling is the best way to create memorable experiences and to step away from the routine. There is no need for a limitless credit card or winning an all-expenses-paid trip to be able to explore the world. Shaping an initial idea and expending some time to consider the costs thoroughly will reveal that a dreamt trip is possible.

Budgeting can even make the travel more exciting since it makes it real. However, leaving something out of it can result in running out of money in the middle of the trip or even worse, ending up with debts. Fortunately, here are eight best tips for both traveling rookies and experts to budget a travel successfully.

1.   Planning process: Not for everyone

While some people hate even minimum planning, others make plans for daily activities. Either way, traveling requires planning to be successful. You must do research and put some thought into identifying priorities, choosing a final destination, and determining your preferred traveling method. Of course, the destination is the main element of your budget. After all, some cities are more expensive than others.

A key for budgeting is being flexible with activities, accommodations, and meals but strict with daily expenses. Your style of traveling is determinant for budgeting. Luxurious destinations and accommodations increase costs significantly. Touristy places can be expensive during peak seasons.

It is also vital to determine if activities like scuba-diving, mount-climbing or a wildlife safari ride are something you want to invest in during the trip or if it is more vital to make a reservation in a nice hotel room and enjoy memorable meals. It all depends on the essence and goals of the trip.

Knowing where to go, what to do, and where to spend more allows you to explore the financing options for the whole travel.

2.   Getting loans: Payday loans or Cash Advances

Charging the trip expenses to a credit card can be a dangerous thing to do. High-interest rates end up raising costs dramatically. A great rule to keep in mind while budgeting is that no travel should become a disaster that ruins your finances.

On the other hand, it can be tough to save for traveling purposes. Despite using online tools like Pear Budget or Mint or an old-school spreadsheet for tracking expenses, making a conscious decision for changing spending habits is hard. However, starting a high-interest savings account without monthly fees added can help saving for the trip. Making a garage sale or selling things online through Amazon or eBay also adds pennies to the travel capital.

Finding a personal loan is a very popular thing to do because of the work it takes to reach the final capital. Payday loans are easy to do, are on hand always and offer a great and fast alternative. You can use services such as Opencashadvance to help you find short-term funding for travel in a way that is easy to pay back.

3.   Biggest Expenditures

Depending on the destination of your journey, an air ticket can be the major expense. Smart money-saving related to air traveling can be taking a detour to lessen costs. Flying nearby the final destination and then picking up a cheaper commercial flight to get there can significantly reduce costs.

Moreover, airfares also vary during weekdays and holidays. Moving the trip dates to slower seasons can be a clever decision. Online tools like Skyscanner and Google Flights compare flights from all available airlines allowing the user to find their best deal. Other third-party bookers like Airtreks can help booking an RTW (round-the-world) ticket, which is considerably lower. Nonetheless, when going a short distance -as within the same country- other transportation forms can offer a low-priced solution.

On the other hand, an accommodation at an expensive destination can become a big part of the budget. Some online tools like Lonely Planet guidebooks and Wikitravel can show the cost of living in the final destination. This allows you to explore the lodging costs and decide where to stay.

Hotels, hostels or guesthouses, have different rates and determine a lot of the budget. Another option for saving money can be a short-term apartment rental at the final destination with tools like Airbnb. This allows you to have a more local perspective of your journey’s location. 

No matter which accommodation is chosen, it is important to read the reviews to see if it is cost-worthy.

4.   A delicious decision

For meals, it is harder to be meticulous with numbers. Common sense and the best judgment play the main role. Some food budget tricks can be booked in accommodation with breakfast or a kitchen included. Remember to budget for groceries if preparing your own meals is part of the plan. Splurging at a special restaurant can be an exceptional memory but can also tighten up the budget.

Do not forget to include happy hour drinks in your budget! Alcohol and snacks can significantly raise costs and are often forgotten during the planning phase.

5.   Transportation costs

An inexpensive way to move from one city to another or within the final destination is public transportation. However, if feeling unsure or if you want to have more freedom, renting a car ahead can be the answer. Online tools like Discover Cars or Busbud can be great for saving costs.

On the other hand, worldwide rail information can be found at different platforms. Europe’s travelers can also save money by getting rail passes for certain destinations.

6.   Additional Expenditures

An important part of creating a budget are expenditures on visas, travel insurance and vaccinations. A visa is an especially important part of the budget when traveling for extended periods. These costs directly depend on the traveler’s origin and destination.

Travel insurance is often seen as an unnecessary expense. However, it’s a huge mistake considering insurance as a waste of money. This is especially true for unusual destinations or audacious travelers who love to engage in extreme sports. Minimal insurance expenses can be achieved by buying travel insurance. This is vital because accidents abroad can be dangerous and expensive.

Another thing to keep in mind is that valuables are often out of travel insurance policies. It is wise to buy extra insurance for accidental damage and theft if traveling with specialized gear.

Health is always important. Vaccination is the best way to prevent diseases and its cost should be within the budget. 

7.   Do not forget the entertainment!

Budgeting for activities avoids additional expenses for entertainment. Search for entrance fees for attractions, parks, and museums and even buy the tickets in advance if possible. For some activities like hiking or camping, you will require specific gear; remember to include those expenses in the budget.

Moreover, if the final destination has interesting shopping scenarios like Paris, determine early on how much money can be spent on it.

8.   Emergency funds

It is wise to have at least 15% above the travel budget available for emergency funds and impulsive buying. An unexpected expense can be to replace a lost or stolen ticket or having to pay bills related to a sudden health problem. Impulsive buying tends to happen while traveling and visiting markets, getting souvenirs, and buying snacks can cause you to go over your budget. Keeping a separate stash of money for these expenses can help avoid spending more than planned.

It is a great idea to monitor the daily expenses during the trip. There are apps available to help you do just that. This helps to compare expenses with the original budget and know if the calculations were accurate.

For an easy review, budget your travel on a spreadsheet, which will allow you to make changes while planning. Keep in mind that saving money while traveling requires you to look for low-cost lodging, less expensive meals and taking walks instead of cabs. This allows you to splurge in other areas that might be more important for you. However, always remember to have fun and enjoy the experience.

Author’s Bio:

Jim Hughes is a content marketer who has significant experience covering technology, finance, economics, and business topics for about 3 years. At the moment he works as content manager in 

Email: [email protected]

About Davide

Davide is a Columbia University alumnus and a member of the Columbia Alumni Association of Italy. He received a Ph.D. in Italian Literature from the Department of Italian at Columbia University in 2012. Davide was born in Correggio, Reggio Emilia in 1978 in a loosely catholic environment. At the age of 1.6 he gets involved with the Reggio Children lobby. Later, moved by idealistic hope for a better world, he starts a liturgical organ class, as if it made an impact. He also plays soccer. He quits both. He surprises everybody devoting himself to writing — well, rewriting — placing and removing commas on every page, to exhaustion. In 2005 db2296 moves to New York, where he makes a living by writing subtitles for B-movies. After many brilliant accomplishments in the field, he gets fired for ruining a pun in Fandango, that which upset Kevin Costner. Hopeless, db2296 obtains a PhD in Italian Literature from Columbia University with a dissertation on Ubertino da Casale and some obscure 13th-century friars obsessed with the Apocalypse and the coming of the Antichrist — thanks to the generous interest of the Whiting Foundation Fellowship. According to Colorado College, where he had the pleasure of teaching Italian, db2296 is “sincere advocate for inter-cultural and experiential learning”. Not everybody knows that his favourite author is Sir Laurence Sterne, followed by Czar Vladimir Nabokov. As for his private life he has no secrets.
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