Tips for Travel Budgeting
Budgeting is a necessary step in the trip planning process. It may determine the destination, or the type of accommodation, or set a goal for a trip in the far future. Whatever the case may be, a solid budget is an essential travel accessory. Below are my top five tips for budgeting for your next trip:
- Set a realistic number to start with and stick to it. Research how much the primary expenses will be, this would include your flight/gas/train ticket and your accommodations. Factor in attraction costs and tours, then add in how much you would ideally spend each day on food and miscellaneous expenses. The key is to not be stingy with your budget starting out. If you have more than you thought you might need during your trip, that’s better than the alternative. (For tips on saving money to add to your travel budget, see this blog).
- Add in buffer funds. Whatever you came up with tip #1, add a few hundred to it for emergency expenses. Keep this buffer fund in a separate savings account, or in cash hidden in your suitcase somewhere. In other words, somewhere you can’t readily get to unless you absolutely need it. Hopefully you’ll never need to touch these extra funds, but it’s good to know you have them should anything come up.
- Check fees and extra charges before booking. If you have a set budget, you need to account for the fees charged with airline and hotel bookings that might exceed what you’ve budgeted for. For example, budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier have fees and extra charges for pretty much everything. $5 to choose your seat ahead of time, $35 for a carry-on bag… these things add up pretty quickly. There are some hostels charge extra for luggage storage and linens and hotels that will charge for WiFi and parking. Check all of this ahead of time and factor it into the budget.
- Budget for each day using cash only. You already know what you want to spend daily, so make it easier on yourself and have only that much cash on you each day. It is much easier to keep track of where you’re at when you are using tangible dollars for each purchase rather than swiping a card for everything you buy. This is a handy way to stay on budget, but you should certainly keep your credit/debit card on hand too in case you’re in need of those buffer funds.
- Leave room for last minute adventures. Yes, budgeting is very important for each and every trip, however, I’ve always been of the belief that adventure is nothing without a little spontaneity. If there is something you really want to do or see, go for it! Don’t miss an opportunity to do something you’ll never get the chance to try again just because you’re budget might be a little tight for it. You’re on vacation after all, have a little fun.
What is your best budgeting tip? What adventure would you splurge on?