Travel is expensive and the budget can be easily undercut. This is how you plan your vacation more precisely.
There are four main costs to each trip: transportation, accommodation, food and drink, and activities. You also have two other expenses that you may forget: travel insurance and utilities (souvenirs, bottled water, etc.). Let's break down each issue and explain how you can better prepare for each expense.
Transportation to your destination is often the biggest cost factor. Flights ̵
However, the fares are relatively easy to budget. Check sites like Kayak or Skyscanner to compare prices on some of the data you're considering and book the ones that work best. You must buy the tickets in advance so that the costs are locked long before your departure.
Transportation after you arrive at the destination is more difficult and can be quite expensive. It is helpful to consider
- how to get to and from the airport at home and abroad. Fourth, taxi rides worth $ 30 cost $ 120 more.
- How to move daily to your destination. Is there a good public transport network? If so, is there an unlimited day ticket? Will you have to go to Uber? Search a bit and budget accordingly.
- If you need to rent a car. If so, you will need to provide the cost of any insurance you may need along with the rental fee.
- When traveling between destinations as soon as you are there. Train tickets are expensive and like booking flights better in advance.
The good thing about transportation is that, as long as you research in advance, you will not be surprised by the cost.
Accommodations  In addition to the transport, where you are staying, there are further substantial travel expenses. However, it is also predictable here, as you will probably book in advance.
First, you have to decide what kind of accommodation you want. In general, hostels are the cheapest, airbnbs are somewhere in the middle and hotels are the most expensive. Usually you can get a hostel bed for about $ 25 a night, an airbnb bed for about $ 100 a night, or a hotel room for about $ 150 a night (there are exceptions to all of these, of course).
On sites like Booking.com and Hotels.com you can compare prices for different accommodation options.
Unlike the transportation costs – when you are willing to take the risk – the hotel stays are usually cheaper the closer the booking date gets. You can get great deals on the same day, but have no idea where you will be in advance. And if something goes wrong, you may have to pay a lot of money for a lousy hotel room. For more tips, see our article on saving accommodations when traveling.
If you do not like a bit of adventure on your travels, we recommend avoiding the riskier strategy and booking your accommodations in advance. It puts the costs in your budget and makes it much easier to predict your expenses. If a super low-cost offer appears, you can check the cancellation policy in your hotel booking at any time. You can usually cancel until the day before your stay.
Food and drink
more unpredictable expenses. How much you spend on food and drink can be very different. I had days when I spent hundreds and days spent less than $ 10 on the same trip! Even in more expensive countries you can usually eat cheap. However, alcohol can empty your wallet at the cheapest locations.
When it comes to budgeting food and drinks, past behavior is the best predictor. Do you like big meals and bottles of wine? Or is a sandwich in the sun all you need? Decide where you fall on the spectrum, and then research a bit. Most restaurants have their menus and prices online now. You can also use a cost of living calculator to see how your goal is building up compared to your hometown.
Remember to include coffee and snacks in your calculations – you can easily add $ 10 per day.
Another thing to look for is whether taxes are included and whether it is a tip culture. My first time in America I was a bit shocked when a $ 10 court cost $ 13 after adding tax and tip.
Consider also your drinking habits. If you drink a few beers, the likelihood of you drinking a few more is much higher. Do not plan on having three beers a day, if you know that you're going to drink eight on at least a few days. It is better to be pleasantly surprised at the end of your trip than to dive into the next month's rent.
If you have a rough figure – say $ 10 for breakfast, $ 15 for lunch, $ 30 for dinner, $ 20 for drinks. and $ 10 for coffee and snacks – add about 20% as a buffer. If you believe you spend $ 85 a day, round it up to $ 100 for safety. That way, you have the flexibility to choose more cocktails.
The last major costs that you probably have are the activities that you will perform. Tickets for the main attractions can add up.
There are some ways to set the budget for activities. You can plan your trip and budget in advance, or schedule a fixed amount per day, and decide what to do when you arrive there. If you choose the first option, things are pretty predictable. Be sure to post an additional 10% for tips or random activities that you decide on a whim.
If you opt for the second option, it's best to determine the cost of this option stuff you like to do. Then multiply the average price by the number of days you think you want to do something – but again, you're making a budget overrun error.
A travel insurance is forgotten by many people, but you must necessarily include it in the travel expenses. Fortunately, it is usually quite cheap. You can easily find good plans for less than $ 100.
When you travel, things that you forget to include in the budget always appear. They are usually small things like pain killers, souvenirs or postcards. But if you do not consider them, they can add up and surprise you.
I take the amount I have planned and add another 20%. In combination with the scope that I have already calculated for food, drinks and activities, results in a generous balance, in which I can dive if necessary. As long as nothing drastic comes up, that should be more than enough. And if something big happens, it's probably covered by your travel insurance.
General Budgeting Tips
By now, you should have a pretty solid idea of what your trip will cost, but here are some more tips that can help you save even more.
If you want to keep track of your budget, create a Google Sheet or an Excel document before leaving. Once you're there, you can use an app like Splitwise to track your daily expenses and make sure you do not get too wild.
Be realistic when setting your budget. Do not expect to get away with $ 50 a day in New York, no matter what the numbers in your spreadsheet are. Always on the side of budgeting for something too much instead of too little.
Watch the exchange rates as they can change. Sometimes they work in your favor, for example when traveling to Asia. In other cases, they can work against you, such as when you are vacationing in Scandinavia. Do not make the mistake that the costs are the same everywhere.
Prices can change too fast. When you book online or in advance, you often receive a discount. Just because the price was one thing when you researched it a month ago does not mean that it will be the same when you get there. Always check all high budget items.
Calculating an accurate travel budget may be boring, but it can make your trip a lot easier. It will help you save the amount you need and spend the vacation you want without worrying about the cost.