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How to Set a Budget for Travel

Updated on August 4, 2012

So you've finally saved up enough money to go on a well deserved vacation. Traveling requires money and taking a vacation can end up doing some serious damage to your bank account if you don't plan ahead. By setting a budget for travel you can plan ahead for all of your travel relates expenses and make sure you don't end up spending way more than you expected.

Your budget will determine where you can go as well as what you can do while you're there. Just follow these simple steps to help you set your own budget for travel.

Travel Budget

Expense category
Estimated budget
Total budget
Travel Expenses
Transport costs
Emergency expenses
Your budget may look something like this (with actual money estimates)

Reviewing and Planning Your Expenses

Take a look at how much you can afford to spend on your vacation and make a rough estimate of that amount

It may be easiest to make a chart for your expenses, putting your estimated amount at the top and subtracting each expense to ensure it fits within your budget.


Choosing a Location for Your Vacation

Now that you have an estimated spending amount, take a look at different vacation destinations and find one that suits your budget.

Take into consideration the cost of airfares/traveling expenses as well as accommodation while you're there. Also take note that you will need to set aside money to spend while you are there within your budget.

Taxi fares and travel expenses while away can really add up so it's important to budget for them.
Taxi fares and travel expenses while away can really add up so it's important to budget for them. | Source

Find out how much it will cost to get you there

Get estimates on the total cost of traveling to your destination - make sure you include any extra fees, taxes or charges.

Work out how you will get around whilst on vacation

If you need to hire a car whilst on vacation, get estimates on the costs of this and subtract it from your total. Likewise look at other expenses like gas/petrol, public transport fares, taxi services, ferries etc.

Look at where you're going to stay - travel accomodation

Look at estimations for different accommodation options while on your vacation. Get a price for the option most suited to you and your budget - also take into consideration extra fees, charges, deposits and taxes you may encounter.

It can be tempting to eat out at fancy restaurants while away, but you have to be careful that these expenses fit into your budget so you don't end up with a sour stomach when you look at your bank balance once you get home.
It can be tempting to eat out at fancy restaurants while away, but you have to be careful that these expenses fit into your budget so you don't end up with a sour stomach when you look at your bank balance once you get home. | Source

Eating while on Vacation

Make a rough estimate of your cost of meals for the trip. Do this for each person traveling with you and for each day of the trip. Make sure you add an extra allowance for snacking, drinks, tips and spur of the moment spending.

Work out what you'll do while on vacation

A lot of people slip up in their vacation budget by not including extras such as activities, souvenirs, attractions, gifts, shopping and entertainment expenses. Include estimates in your budget for shopping, admission prices for attractions/activities and souvenir/gift expenses. .

Have a vacation backup plan

Estimate an amount for emergency unforeseen expenses that you may run into while away. This is to cover any costs that weren't considered in your travel budget and ensure you won't end up having to pay hefty bills when you get home.


Double check

Use a calculator to add up all of your estimated travel expenses, this figure will be a rough guide for how much your trip is going to cost. Compare the estimated cost of your trip to your estimated budget and make a few changes to your plan if necessary.

Figure out how you will pay for your trip

If you have already saved the money needed for your trip, you're one step ahead! If your trip does not match your estimated budget, make some changes to your plan to make it suit your budget or plan how you will save the extra money to afford your trip.

Stick to your budget

Whilst you're on your vacation, be mindful of what you're spending so you don't get home to find you've completely overspent. Remember how much time you have spent planning your budget and don't completely forget it once you're away. Make sure you only spend the allotted amount for each travel expense to ensure you don't end up short.


- Always make a higher estimate if you're not 100% sure of the cost, this way you won't be falling short if your estimated figure is well below the actual cost.
- You can sometimes lower your travel expenses by booking in advance or taking advantage of special packages or deals.
- Look into loyalty/member programs with accommodation, airlines and other programs to take advantage of any discounts they may have. Many hotel chains have member discounts and all you have to do is sign up on their website.
- Look for free activities and entertainment in the area you choose to vacation in.


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