Let me start off by explaining what this new series is going to be about and why I’m doing this.
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My Travel Planning Simplified Series will break down each idea outlined in my first vacation planning post into small, manageable tasks. The first task I want to talk about is how you can budget your trip because typically this will be a major deciding factor in where you can go.
This will determine how far from home you can travel, whether you need to fly or drive, the type of accommodation you can stay in, and what you can do while there.
The idea behind this series came from my younger siblings and cousins who are all currently in their early twenties. When you’re that age and you’ve never planned your own trips anywhere, it’s hard to figure out where to start.
You can go look at all kinds of travel blogs or Tripadvisor for things to do, but when it comes to putting the whole trip together where do you learn to do that? I learned the hard way by trial and error.
While I do think there are benefits to that method in many cases, it can also cause a heck of a lot of wasted time when it comes to travel. When you only have a certain number of vacation days per year each moment is precious and shouldn’t be wasted!
How I Budget For Vacation
Full disclosure – this is the planning part I am worst at. I usually don’t have a set budget. My family would say that I’m so tight anyways that it doesn’t matter (lol).
I guess I’s say my budget style is budget-conscious. If I want to fly somewhere I am very patient and stay on Google Flights and the Hopper to figure out the best time to fly at the cheapest rate. I have a whole process I use to find the cheapest flights possible.
I will go cheap on accommodations. Don’t get me wrong, I am not staying in roach motels (GROSS). I do an initial search to get a general idea on cost to stay and then start digging to find the nicest place at the most reasonable price.
I use Airbnb A LOT for this. If I do stay in a hotel, I typically will try to choose Hilton (and book directly) as I have their credit card and am a loyalty member. Another great option is Booking.com.
The food and excursions/entertainment are where I will splurge. Based on what I’ve read I think this is a typical millennial thing to do. Experiences over things and all.
So there you go, there’s my personal view on budgeting.
Why Should You Budget Your Trip?
I’ve just told you that I am very lax when it comes to budgeting so you’re probably thinking ‘Why in the world do I need to budget for my trip if she doesn’t budget for hers?’
Just because I travel a lot doesn’t mean I know everything about it and do it the best way. Trust me, I am still learning.
Money issues are one of the leading stressors around the world. Doesn’t it make sense then to have a plan when it comes to how you’re spending your money?
When you can set up a general budget for your trip and then save for it you can kick back and relax while you’re gone instead of biting your nails every time you swipe that credit card.
Pro tip: One reason that I am able to get by without having a strict budget is because Tyler and I have a travel category in our monthly general budget. I also use my monthly hobby allotment for travel most of time.
Vacation Budget by Category
This covers transportation to your destination plus local transport once you arrive. When traveling to your destination consider plane/train tickets, or fuel costs for a road trip. Don’t forget luggage fees depending on the company. If you’re flying and you drove to the airport there’s also parking fees.
Once you arrive you’ll either have to rent a car, budget for Uber or Lyft rides, or take public transportation. Do some research to see if public transport is free or if you have to pay for it. Parking at your hotel could also be additional.
When trying to find the most budget friendly accommodations I typically start with Airbnb or VRBO depending on where I am going. ALWAYS look for good reviews and research the neighborhood the place is in before booking.
I will also try out booking.com to find hotels but unless something is much cheaper than a Hilton in the area then I book directly with them. Typically Hampton Inns as they are the most budget-friendly.
Depending on what type of accommodations you book don’t forget to look at resort fees, additional state or local occupancy taxes, parking fees, and now, COVID fees.
The amount you spend here depends on the type of vacation you’re going on. You’ll spend much less on a camping trip where you hike everyday than if you’re on a city getaway or a ski vacation. Here are a few things to think about for different types of vacations.
City Escape – tickets for museums, sports, or shows, rentals for things like rowboats (Central Park Lake) or segways, walking tours or tours of a certain location, theme parks, zoos, entrance fees for observation points
Beach – fee for chairs or umbrellas, putt-putt/golf, beach snacks, beach games, excursions like seeing the wild horses in Corolla, NC, watersports rentals, fishing outing
Cabin Getaway – outdoor activities like zip lining, white water rafting, skiing, kayaking, or SUP, entrance fees for parks
Camping – National or State Parks entrance fee, equipment rental
This is by no means a complete list, but hopefully it gives you some ideas for what you might want to budget for your trip.
Food can add up real quick. Even for a 3-day vacation for Tyler and I if we go out for each meal that’s $30 for breakfast, $35 for lunch and at least $75 for dinner with drinks. That’s $140 per day. PER DAY. Which means $420 over 3 days.
That’s just for two people. A few ways to save on this are to stay in a room with a kitchen and cook a few meals or you can eat a late breakfast, have a mid-afternoon snack, and then just eat dinner.
Don’t forget to budget for breakfast, lunch, dinner, groceries if you’ll be buying any, snacks, and alcohol/bars.
If you’re in a duty-free destination sometimes it’s good to pick up big ticket items that you already wanted to purchase. I do like shopping while on vacation just because you can check out some unique boutique stores in the area. If you’re like me then put a little money in for this.
Souvenirs can go under this category as well. I love to get little things like magnets, postcards, or christmas ornaments.
I never even thought about travel insurance until a couple years ago. This is up to you as an individual whether you think you should buy it or not, but personally, I won’t be traveling far without it. A popular company for travel insurance is World Nomads.
If you want insurance on just your plane tickets, most airlines offer this during check out.
How to Budget Your Trip Overview
The ideal situation is that you figure out where you want to go, how much it will be and then save that amount plus 25%.
It’s vacation! You want to go and have fun, not worry about every penny you’re spending. I know this isn’t an option for everyone though. If you have to then there are plenty of ways to do things on a shoestring budget.
You just have to get creative.
Are there any other things you take into consideration when budgeting for vacation? Leave a comment below.
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