Whether you are planning for your “one day” dream trip or you have a vacation coming up in the near future, you are probably going to have to face the fact that you do not have unlimited moolah to spend. Planning a travel budget isn’t hard and it lets you forget about money matters and enjoy your vacation once you are on it. You don’t want to be that person who can’t eat at the awesome seaside restaurant (with those amazing Piña Coladas) because you spent all your money days before, do you? Trust us, a well planned budget = a happy trip.
Here are seven questions you should ask yourself when planning your budget.
1. Where are you going?
Location is one of the biggest factors in the cost of your vacation, in fact, it pretty much frames your entire budget. We recommend you don’t start planning your budget until you know exactly where you will be going.
Transportation to and from cities and the cost of hotels/lodging can vary widely based on destination. If you are looking to save money, check out alternative cities or regions in the same country you were planning on visiting. You may be able to create significant savings this way.
2. Do you have a rough estimate of how much your trip will cost?
Before you begin planning an in-depth budget, it is helpful to have a rough understanding of how much your trip will cost. The easiest way to do this is to tie a dollar amount to each day and multiply that number by the amount of days your vacation will last.
3. To indulge or not to indulge?
This one is simple. Do you want to splurge or would you rather add time to your trip and be a little more thrifty? Either way could be the right way for you, it just depends on what is more important to you on this particular trip.
4. What are your must do’s/must sees?
Make a list of all the things that you feel are absolutely necessary. Going to Paris? If going up to the top of the Eiffel Tower is a must do, find out how much tickets cost and write it down. Write down a description and cost of every one of your must do’s. By doing this, you will be creating the baseline for your sightseeing budget and also the beginnings of your itinerary.
5. Have you planned for the unexpected?
Things happen on vacations that you don’t expect. Maybe you lose your passport or end up paying way more in tolls then you expected to pay. Make sure to include some emergency money in your budget to cover these types of expenses. We usually like to pad our budget by about 20% to take care of unexpected costs or emergency situations.
6. Do you have enough money now, if not, what’s your plan to get there?
This is really a question for after you create your budget, but it is an important one to keep in mind. Do you have enough money to have the kind of experience you want? If you don’t, create a plan to save the money you need. Give up that Starbucks you have every morning (gasp!) or set aside a few dollars a day until you reach your goal. Need help? Check out Smarty Pig, and online piggy bank that you can use to help you save money for your vacation.
Sacrifice for a greater goal is almost always worth it. What will you remember in 20 years, the day you didn’t have the Starbucks or going on that trip you have always dreamed of? Tip: Piggy banks are always helpful.
7. How are you going to keep yourself on track?
The most accurate budget in the world is not going to work if you don’t stick to it. Make a plan that will help you stay on track BEFORE you go on vacation. If your budget is really tight, spend a few minutes at the end of every day evaluating how much you have spent and if you are track. Adjust accordingly. If you have a little more room in your budget check and evaluate every 3 or 4 days.
To help you make your own travel budget, we’ve created some free printable worksheets. The simple travel budget worksheet should help to give you a general idea of how much money you will need to take your trip. The daily travel budget worksheet will allow you to create a more in-depth budget based on every day you will be traveling.
Good luck! Tell us all about your travel budget planning tips, successes, and failures.