How to Budget For Travel


As I said my wife and I love cruises.  Like most things in life, they don’t happen by accident.  This article is how we set aside the funds to take our vacations, including Disney Cruises.

I have the second article from that shares how to have the money to take that dream vacation for you and your family. See below.

This is part 2 of a 2 part series.  Part 1 talked about step 1 of going on a Disney cruise.

Step 1. Choosing and booking your travel

Our post “Disney Cruise. They Know How to Treat You Right!” covered step 1.  You may want to visit it as a refresher.

Step 2. Budgeting for your travel

Planning and budgeting for a vacation are actually some of the best parts of a vacation.  Researching accommodations, restaurants, and activities help to create excitement about the vacation. We spend months planning and talking about our vacation and enjoying the planning process.

My travel budgeting has evolved over time. It started as an envelope system, which had dire consequences.  On a vacation, my sweet sidekick (spouse) cleaned the car out and threw away the envelopes with $1000 in it.  Gasp!! Cry!!!

Then I went to a simplified spreadsheet created my accountant husband.  NOT SIMPLE!!

So, I created my own travel budget worksheet.

I have been using my travel budget worksheet for quite a few years now and it has worked really well.

Having a budget in the very beginning helps you see where you need to conserve money and where you can spend a little more.  You will refer to your budget often and update it regularly through the planning process.

My Travel Budget Worksheet (free download) will help you figure out how much money you will need for every area of your trip, from the airfare to the souvenirs.

Where to Start

Start by downloading the attached simple spreadsheet. I will walk you through how to use it.

Download Now travel budget worksheet

You can either print off this spreadsheet or fill it in by hand or you can download it to your computer and it will populate as you fill it in on your computer.

Here is a sample of what our travel budget looks like.

Look at the spreadsheet.  You will notice that it has a row for each type of expense and a column each for your budget actually spent and difference so you can see how you are doing over time.

I also like a notes column at the end of each item so I can make a note of anything important.

Working out the Costs

Once you have downloaded the spreadsheet you are ready to go.  You can start researching costs and add them in as you go. Remember that at this stage, you don’t need to make any firm decisions, you are just taking a looking around to get a rough idea of the cost.

There are 5 simple steps to a travel budget

You have already chosen your destination and dates.

Step 1 Transportation

How are you getting to your destination?  If it is in your own vehicle driving just a few hours away, you will still need the cost of gas.

Start your research by finding out what types of transport you will need on this vacation.

If you are planning on flying, research airfare.  Use at least 3 websites to get an idea of the cost to your destination on your date. You don’t need to go into specifics at this stage, just scroll through and average the costs.

If you are renting a car, do the same as you did for airfare. Like with the airfare search, you will get a bunch of results from different car rental companies and different types of vehicles available. Think about the size of car you might like and look at the different prices from each car company. Note that there is a price difference between automatic and manual car rentals. Do an average and add this price to your budget.

Include Transfers

While transfers are generally minor costs, they do eventually add up when combined with the other costs and help to make your budget more accurate.

Do an internet search again, this time for the airport you will be transferring to/from. Most major airports will have a section on their website called something like “getting to/from the airport”. Click on that, and it is here that you are likely to find which airport transfer companies operate at this airport and sometimes this page may even have costs on it. If costs are not listed, visit the transfer company’s website to find the prices. Add this cost to the spreadsheet and remember to factor in return transfers if needed.

Step 2 Accommodation

The next biggest expense for your vacation is likely to be your accommodation.

My Accommodation is a cruise.

There are a number of different accommodation types ranging from top of the range luxury hotels and resorts; modest run of the mill hotels and chains; apartments; budget hotels; B&B’s; and hostels.

Once you’ve done research on accommodations you should be able to find an average price from the options available and then add it to the spreadsheet.

If during your vacation, if you will be staying in more than one location, I suggest having a different row on the spreadsheet for each location to keep a better track of each cost.

Step 3 Tours & Activities

This is something that not all of you will need to think about. How much you plan to spend on sights and activities will be up to you and the destination you are visiting

If you are going on a cruise with shore excursions or are planning on going on an organized, guided tour, then this will be one of your biggest vacation costs.  Also, if you are planning on doing a city guided city tour, this will be a major cost.

Research my post “Shore Excursions: What are your Options?” for shore excursions.   For city tours, go to the cities Visitor Bureau Website for information on tours. If you’re spending nights in an all-inclusive resort where you plan to relax and do nothing, then this cost will likely be zero.

Once you have an idea of prices for sights, activities, and tours you can determine an average price and add that to the spreadsheet.

Step 4 Food & Drink

My food and drink budget is usually pretty modest. I like to have a simple breakfast in the hotel, have a quick simple lunch on the go and finish the day off with a reasonable meal in a nice sit-down restaurant. My spouse and I always share meals. I don’t snack a lot throughout the day but might have ice cream on a hot day or the odd street snack if I can’t help myself.  It is all going to depend on what you want.

Step 5 Shopping & Other Expenses

How much you want to spend on souvenirs and shopping when you travel is entirely up to you. Some people, like me, avoid buying souvenirs and shopping altogether because it is extra weight on my back. But for others, shopping is part of the travel experience.

If there is something specific that you want to purchase in your destination then do a bit of research about how much it costs.  Really, it’s up to you. Just make sure that these expenses make it on your budget at some point before you leave.

Bringing it All Together

Now You have the basis of your vacation budget.  You will be tweaking it as you make your reservations and solidify your plans.

attribution: Budgeting for Travel by Wease



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