Planning a budget doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on one. Rather, it’s just a responsible way to prepare for a trip to ensure you’re crossing all your travel t’s and dotting all those itinerary i’s. Not to mention, setting a travel budget is a great way to get excited about your next getaway! Of course, determining travel costs takes a bit of planning and organization, but it will give you peace of mind in the long run.
Here’s how to budget for a vacation so you can ensure everything goes off without a hitch.
Choose Your Destination
It’s difficult to determine an average vacation cost without having a destination in mind. Of course, the word “average” is vital here. Two different couples could be taking the same trip to Italy, but one pair prefers to spend time hiking and preparing meals in their rented villa. In contrast, the other team enjoys hotel accommodations, eating out three times a day, and taking tours. When choosing a destination, consider the following:
- Domestic or international?
- Big city or off the grid?
- What time of the year will you be visiting?
- Do you want a place with a lot of activities or a more laid-back environment?
The number of people taking the trip and who is paying for what obviously affects the budget. Are you traveling as a couple? A family of four? With friends? Solo? Of course, parents are responsible for taking care of their children’s expenses, but what if you’re traveling with a group? Make it clear from the get-go how you plan to split things like restaurant and food expenses, car rentals, etc., to avoid miscommunication during your trip.
Identify & Budget for Big Ticket Items With a Travel Expenses List
Once you have your destination and the length of your trip nailed down, it’s time to budget your trip, including as many details as possible. This will require some substantial research on your part — and not just from a financial perspective, so make sure you set aside a decent amount of time to plan your trip. Things to consider include:
Mode of Transportation: Obviously, an international trip will require a plane, but will you need additional transportation such as trains or buses to move about the country? Or will you rent a car? For domestic trips, there are more options to choose from. Perhaps you’ll forgo taking a plane because you wish to take a road trip instead — just don’t forget to consider the cost of gas and how many times you’ll have to fill up based on the length of your trip and the vehicle you’re driving.
Lodging: Do you prefer luxury accommodations? Boutique hotels? A cruise ship? An apartment or home rental? Or do you plan on camping or sleeping in your RV? What amenities matter to you? How many nights will you be staying? The season in which you’re traveling and the destination itself will also affect the cost.
Entertainment: As with lodging, this category weighs heavily on personal preference and the destination. A trip to the rocky mountains where you plan on hiking, for example, won’t have a lot of entertainment costs since nature is your playground! However, a getaway to Vegas would require a budget for shows, nightlife, fine dining, and maybe a few rounds at the roulette table. Be realistic about what you want to do and see on your trip and create a buffer for those spontaneous activities you didn’t initially plan for.
Dining/Groceries: Do you like your vacations to include Michelin Star restaurants? Local favorites? Picnics? DIY cooking? A combo? While it’s great to be spontaneous, it’s good to have a general idea of your plans as a five-star restaurant palate will require a larger budget than grab-n-go sandwich stands. Demographics play a role, too. For example, the cost of a meal in Prague is a fraction of the price of what you’d pay in Paris. You can also work backward by setting a dollar amount per week or day.
Don’t Forget to Budget for the Travel “Extras”
Don’t forget to include expenditures on miscellaneous items (if applicable) such as a passport, a visa, travel insurance (including a separate one to cover any specialized gear or equipment), any vaccinations (speak to your doctor), emergency funds, souvenirs, and any new (essential) clothing you may need for your trip.
New Travel Gear
It’s never a bad idea to invest in new travel gear as it will be with you trip after trip. Perhaps you’re taking your first extended international trip, so you need to upgrade to the Extra-Large Expandable Spinner. Or maybe you’re taking a road trip that requires less bulk and smarter packing. In that case, a travel backpack could come in handy. No matter where you’re going or for how long, Briggs & Riley has got all of your packing needs covered.
Helpful Travel Budget Planning Websites
Planning a trip should be fun, not overwhelming, so to help you out, here are some handy travel budget websites to help you nail down costs.
- Value Penguin: Great for obtaining estimates for the average cost of various types of vacations, from transportation to lodging and more.
- BudgetYourTrip.com: Provides an overview of the average all-encompassing travel costs for destinations all around the world.
- Hipmunk: So much more than just a portal to find a great hotel; Hipmunk also provides info on “hot spots” near your place of lodging, including dining, shopping, nightlife, and things to do.
- Discover Cars: Helps you seek out the most inexpensive domestic and international car rentals.
- Fly or Drive Calculator: As the name suggests, this website helps you determine the exact costs of air travel or a road trip, right down to the make and model of the car, how many people you’re traveling with, taxi costs, and more.
- Busbud: A useful booking site to compare the costs of bus trips worldwide.
- Tripit: An excellent app that takes all of the details (and we mean all of them) of your trip and consolidates them into one organized list. All you need to do is send along all of your confirmation emails, and poof! Your journey just got a little bit easier.
Budgeting for a trip doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, it can be a lot easier than deciding where to go in some cases! The secret is preparing in advance as much as possible and with this handy to-do list, you’ll have your budget planned in no time.