How to Make a Travel Budget

We continue our Spring Break travel series this week with tips on how to create your travel budget. Don’t plan your trip without one!

Before you figure out how to save money on your next vacation, you need to figure out how much your travel is going to cost you and how to budget accordingly. Many times people slip into a mindset where they are on vacation and don’t even want to think about sticking to a budget. But simply making a plan can help you live within your means, not overspend, and avoid coming home in debt and broke.

Photo Courtesy: Kristen

To begin, you’ll need to do your research to make a good estimate on how much it will cost you for lodging, food, transportation, and any other entertainment and other costs you may encounter. First, start by considering where you are going and how long you’ll be gone.

Where are you going?

The most important aspect of starting a travel budget is figuring out where you’re going. Your transportation, lodging, food, and other costs are all dependent on the location of your travel. Visiting Hawaii is going to cost a lot more than it costs to visit Thailand. Where you’re going also impacts how you’re going to spend money. If you’re going to a location where you can camp or stay with friends and family, lodging is going to be significantly less. Location also determines how much you will spend on incidentals. For example, if you’re headed to a tropical getaway, you’ll need sunscreen, a bathing suit, and other beach gear. But if you’re traveling through Europe for an extended trip, you’ll need good quality walking shoes and a durable backpack.

How long will you be gone?

The second thing you need to determine before actually making a budget is how long you are going to be gone. This is important because then you will be able to make a daily budget. Most likely, every day you are traveling is going to cost more money. If you are doing extended travel, there are additional costs included. You may need to purchase a storage rental to store your items or pay someone to look after your home or pets.

Create a Travel Budget

Once you know where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone, you can start creating your budget. Be sure to keep in mind ways to save on your vacation, and don’t wait until your trip to explore free travel apps that will help you save money. The best way to do your travel budget is to balance what matters most to you and what doesn’t matter at all. If you plan on going to costly dinners, stay at a less expensive hotel. If you want to do long term travel for several months, try to stay with people you know and camp to save money. Here are the five things to consider when making the budget:

  1. Lodging
    Before you dive in and start estimating your lodging costs, think about how you can save on hotels by using coupons, joining hotel reward cards, exploring free nights, and finding the best deals. If you don’t need to stay in a hotel, there are many money saving alternatives to hotels such as camping and couch surfing. When you know where you’ll be staying each night, you can figure out how much it’s going to cost. Read more: 11 Hidden Hotel Fees and How to Avoid Them.
  2. Food
    It’s a little more difficult to plan exactly how much food will cost since your appetite and needs may change from day to day. When planning food costs, think about what type of trip you are planning on having. Every trip has unique needs with food. If you’re doing a road trip and camping, you can purchase food from the store to bring it with you. Staying at a place with a stove, vacationing at an all-inclusive resort, or staying with friends and family all impact how much food is going to cost. Look into restaurants and grocery stores in your area to find out how much it costs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Food, coffee, and drinks are very different in different areas. Read more: Alternatives to Dining Out to Save Money.
  3. Transportation
    Before you settle in at the hotel or have a bite to eat, you have to get there, right? Depending on your destination, you can decide if you’re taking an airplane, train, or car, but figuring out the exact costs aren’t so simple. If you’re taking a plane or train, you know exactly how much your tickets are going to cost, but don’t forget about getting around after you arrive at your destination. You may need to factor in renting a car, paying for parking, costs of a taxi, or paying for public transportation. If you’re driving your own car, you also need to think about paying for parking. It’s difficult to give an exact estimate on costs if you’re driving. Gas prices vary from location to location, but you can use Gas Buddy’s fuel calculator to get a good idea of how much it will cost. The site allows you to enter the make, model, and year of your car along with your route to figure out the price of gas for your trip. Read more: Get the Most Bang for Your Frequent Flyer Miles.
  4. Entertainment
    The best thing about budgeting for entertainment is you have complete control over how much you spend. Start by making a list of what you’d like to do for entertainment. Next to each item, write down how much it costs. From there you can determine which activities are most important to you and worth the money. Balance costly attractions and events with free things like visiting local parks and beaches and sightseeing. Read more: Tips for Taking a Practical Vacation.
  5. Everything else
    Lodging, food, transportation, and entertainment may be the biggest costs of the trip, but there are many other costs to consider. If you’re camping, you’re going to need a lot of outdoor and camping gear, but there’s many ways to keep costs low while you’re camping. Depending on the climate and activities you’re doing, you may need to purchase specific clothing, sunscreen, bug spray, and other incidentals. Some places require or recommend vaccinations for travel such as the yellow fever vaccination for travel in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America. Read more: Budget Travel Tips.

How do you make a travel budget?

More Ways to Save on Travel

2 thoughts on “How to Make a Travel Budget

  1. Budget and the Beach

    One thing that I’m experimenting with a travel budget is checking out budget tours…and depending on where they are located and length of time of travel, I use that as a basis. I’d like to travel 3-4 weeks next year.

  2. Tiffany Anne

    You should also keep a small portion of your budget for fees, entrance fees. But this depends on where you’re going.

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