Before you can even begin to plan a trip, you need to take a good look at your finances and figure out how much money you have to spend on your holiday. This will dictate a lot of the future steps including where you can travel to and for how long.
Creating an Initial Budget
Determine what you can afford. Assess how much money you have available for the vacation. Keep in mind your ongoing expenses that you’ll need to take care of when you return like rent, utilities, and food costs. You don’t want to stress yourself out during your vacation by having no money for when you return.
Get advice from friends and family. Ask around if anyone you know has visited your destination. While websites and web reviews are helpful, you don’t know if they’ve been influenced by local sponsors or the like. Friends and family will give you more personal and trustworthy advice.
- Ask questions like “What does a meal cost there?” or “What are some cheap things to do there?”
Use online budgeting tools. There are numerous websites designed to help your budget specifically for travel. They will help you determine the local costs of goods and what expenses you’ll need to consider.
- Try sites like BudgetYourTrip.com, SavingForTravel.com, and IndepdentTraveler.com. Set up an account and enter the details of your budget and travel expenses.
Budgeting for the Basics
Determine your method of transportation. Travel to the location of your choosing may be expensive. Determine the costs of taking a plane, train, coach bus, rental car, or cruise ship to your selected location. Air travel is the quickest option but may be costlier than train, bus, or car rental if the distance isn’t too great. You should also keep in mind the environmental impacts of each method of transportation. A cruise ship affords the greatest luxury and will often include a number of stops but is also the costliest option.
- You can compare plane ticket costs with Google Flights, SkyScanner.com, Expedia, FareCompare.com, or Kayak. Always research price comparisons before making your purchase.
- sider local transportation. Once you reach your destination, you’ll need further transportation to get around locally. Many people take taxi cabs, ride-sharing cars, local transit buses, or the subway to get around locally. If you have some extra money, you can travel more easily by renting a car at your location.
- Use your preferred search engine to research public transit at your destination. Not all cities will have all of the options mentioned above.
- You can compare rental car prices SkyScanner.com, Expedia, or Kayak as well. Always research price comparisons before making your reservation.
- If you are renting a car, you should also consider what rental agencies are close to your airport or hotel.
Consider lodging expenses. One of the more significant items you’ll need to budget for is your lodging cost. Lodgings vary greatly in cost and quality so be sure to consider your exact needs and what’s available at your destination. If your destination hosts many tourists, there will likely be a wide variety of hotels, motels, resorts, and bed-and-breakfasts.
- Pick a hotel that is located near the attractions you’re seeking. This will prove convenient and save you in local travel costs.
- Consider amenities like televisions in the rooms, internet access, and access to a swimming pool. You should also consider the quality and size of available beds and bathrooms, the availability of air conditioning, and whether or not they serve a complimentary breakfast. If you have any questions that aren’t answered by their website, call the front desk.
- Check customer reviews on Google and Yelp. Keep in mind that nearly every hotel has some excellent reviews and some that are terrible. Read as many as possible to get a comprehensive idea of the quality.
- Some locales will have hostels where you can stay at little or no charge in exchange for doing some chores.
- You can compare hotel prices and features on Expedia and Kayak as well. You can also use Hotwire, Hotels.com, Priceline, Travelocity, and Agoda. Always research price comparisons before making your reservation because different sites may have different prices at the same hotel.
Include food costs. Of course, you’ll need to eat during your trip so you need to budget for meals. Keep in mind that you’ll likely be eating out and that food costs can vary greatly between different places. Use your preferred search engine to determine local food costs.
- If you need to save some money on food, consider getting a hotel room with a kitchenette or at least a microwave and then purchasing some easy-to-make meals at a local grocery store.
Keep an incidentals fund. Always create your travel budget so that there is a little money left over. You’re likely to find some sort of cost that you hadn’t considered beforehand. It could be as simple as needing sunscreen for the beach or pharmaceuticals for an unforeseen illness.
Consider travel insurance. Travel insurance is commonly used to insure against a variety of significant unforeseen costs such as medical care that won’t be covered by your insurer because you’re out of network, lost luggage, falling victim to theft, or a transportation accident. Travel insurance can often be purchased from vending machines at airports or online.
- Allianz, Travel Insurance Direct, CoverMore, Bupa are some websites that offer standalone travel insurance.
- You can also get travel insurance from general insurance providers like Geico and State Farm. You may be able to get a discount if you purchase auto, life, or home insurance from these providers already.
Budgeting for the Extras
Determine sight-seeing costs. Sight-seeing is a common practice for travelers. Think about the transportation, admittance and other costs related specifically to these trips. Most monuments, parks, and museums are free of charge but some may cost a small amount money. Research these sights beforehand so you can factor them into your budget.
- ook up pre-packaged sight-seeing tours in your destination. They may be the most cost-efficient and thorough way to see a locale’s major sights.
Determine your entertainment costs. If you’re planning on attending amusement parks, enjoying the local nightlife, or taking in a show, factor these costs into your budget. You may want to create a rough schedule of your daily entertainment plans so you can research them ahead of time.
- Use sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor to research local entertainment and get an idea of the costs ahead of time.
- Consider getting a AAA membership. They offer travel discounts at restaurants and entertainment venues.
Consider gifts and souvenirs. Many travelers purchase gifts for others other souvenirs for themselves. It will be difficult to determine the costs ahead of time so make a budget you can stick to.
- Make a list of the people you intend to purchase gifts for ahead of time and try to assign a rough dollar amount.
Doing Budget-Friendly Planning
Save up some money. Travel can be expensive so developing a comprehensive budget is a great idea.
- You may also need to set aside money from your typical day-to-day expenses so you’ll have enough. Work out a regular amount of money to set aside for your travel expenses and begin saving as soon as possible.
- If you need some extra money to make your travel budget, consider a part-time or temporary job like driving for a ride-sharing program or writing for an online publication. Search for temporary jobs on websites like Craigslist, Indeed.com, or FlexJobs.com.
- f you’re a frequent traveler or have travel benefits from your credit card company, you may be able to defray the costs of airfare or travel.
Convert your currency. If you are leaving the country, you may need to exchange your money for the local currency. Use your preferred search engine to find the name of the country you’re visiting to determine what type of currency they use. However, many foreign countries that use different currencies also widely accept U.S. Dollars, so you may want to search whether or not this is applicable in your destination.
- Use the website http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/ to determine the exchange rate. Simply enter the amount of money in your travel budget and then change the second box to the currency of your destination country.
Consider an all-inclusive vacation. There are a number of agencies that provide all-inclusive vacation packages that can reduce the cost of specific items and make it easier for you to budget. They usually include lodging, food, and entertainment provisions like tickets to amusement parks or guided tours. Specific packages are usually geared toward couples, singles, and families with children.