One of the most stressful things related to traveling is…money! Do you have enough to do what you want to? How much is enough? What else might you end up having to pay for that you didn’t plan on? That’s why a travel budget is very important!
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When we’re talking about your trip budget, typically you think of your airfare, hotel, transportation, and perhaps activities. However, there are a lot of other things to keep in mind when budgeting for your trip. You don’t necessarily need to know these numbers before you start planning, but I would definitely recommend having an idea of your numbers for these before you travel. That way there are fewer surprises when you get home and look at your credit card statement. I would also start with the necessities and work my way to the fun things. To help you have a better grasp on the expenses you might have, I’ve got a few items for you to consider.
What’s in Your Travel Budget?
Car rental – taxes, fees & gasoline
Other transportation options (taxis, shuttles, Uber, etc.)
Tipping (bellhops, taxi drivers, etc.)
Drinks (coffee, soda, alcoholic beverages, etc.)
Tipping (tour guides)
Entrance fees (museum, theme park, zoo, etc.)
Updated cell phone plan/sim card
Dog kennel/pet sitter
Now, not all of these budget lines may be valid for you personally, or for where you’re going. For instance, tipping may be common within the U.S., but it’s not common everywhere! Make sure you have an idea of the type of culture you’re going to visit.
Once you have an idea of what you’ll need to, want to, and get to spend, it’s time to figure out how you can make those numbers work. There are many ways you can create a little savings without skimping out on your dream vacation.
Tips to Consider
Create a separate savings account for travel. For each paycheck, have a percentage moved directly into that account (similar to what you should be doing with your savings account).
Don’t wait until the last minute to book. I know that some people will tell you that last-minute deals are the way to go, and sometimes that may be true. However, that’s not always the case. If you aren’t too worried about where you’re actually going, then it’s okay, but if you really want to visit a particular location or resort, waiting is not a great idea, because things can and do fill up!
Travel in a shoulder season. Take advantage of the off-peak times of the year! If you have children, yes this may mean taking them out of school. I’m not saying a good education isn’t necessary, but I’m also a firm believer that some of the experiences you may have while traveling can be just as valuable, if not more. (Sorry to my teacher friends, don’t be mad at me!) Plus, the money you could possibly save by traveling during this time can be used for other things like team fees, ACT prep courses, or even put towards college. 😉
Look for free attractions, possibly ones you can walk to! Depending on where you’re going, there can be plenty of different options for you. Take a walk around the neighborhood where your hotel/resort is. Explore a little!
If you’re looking for ways to start saving more money for your trips, check out these tips!
You Can Still Have a Great Trip While on a Budget
Eat out less. There is nothing wrong with bringing snacks or stopping by the store for things you could use for light meals. You can also select which meals you’re going to eat out. Breakfast and lunch are typically less expensive (unless you select a fancy brunch) than dinner somewhere. You could also try a local restaurant that may not be in the touristy part of town. You may find those to be a bit less expensive.
Be flexible. You might have a specific place you really want to go to or a resort you want to stay at. Knowing certain things like that can be helpful in your planning. However, what if that place is booked during the time you wanted? Are you able to change your dates? Would staying at a different resort in your dream location still make you happy? You never know what roadblocks you might come across when planning your trip. It’s great to have hopes and plans, but it’s also good to be able to make changes when necessary.
Use a CC for the perks, not the interest!
Loyalty points are really worth it! It might be from staying at a specific brand of hotels or flying the same airline every time, but don’t diss loyalty programs. For that matter, you should also have a credit card that you can use to earn points to put towards travel. Whether you use the card for the perks that come with having it (like lounge access), or for the perks you get for accruing points (seat upgrades), there’s one rule to remember. Pay it off! I’m not suggesting you get a credit card and go into debt. Use the card when you can. But if you’re unable to pay off what you’re charging, then hold off on charging! That is in fact, not worth it!
Now, a couple of points related to these things and working with a travel agent. Typically, when we’re talking with you about your budget, we’re mostly referring to your airfare, lodging, possibly transportation like a rental car or shuttle, and travel protection. Also, when it comes to purchasing travel using your points or miles, that’s not something that an agent would typically do. In order to do so we would usually need access to your log-in information and then once it’s purchased, we’re limited on how we can help with any modifications.
So, what other items might you include in your travel budget? I’d love to know!
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