Epic travels don’t require epic spending sprees. With just a little more attention to the money flow, you can have it all.
Are budgets really necessary when travelling?
The only thing worse than food poisoning or losing your wallet to pickpockets on a trip is coming home to a mountain of credit card debt. Regret is one of the worse post-trip feelings. For example, spending on activities or purchases made during your trip that you now realize could have been avoided. At the very least, you definitely don’t want to become the solo traveller who ran out of money on a vacation and had to call home or friends for some bailout money… super embarrassing!
So… are they? Yes! Absolutely! Budgets are essential if you want to have an easy, stress free travel experience you’ll never regret.
While there’s nothing wrong with going on a spending spree once in a while or coughing out some extra dollars to purchase a really valuable gift, the joy of the moment will be surpassed by the frustration and pain of debt or lack of money once you return home. It can ruin traveling for some, and there’s really no point in spending money that you don't have, only to feel crappy about it later and wish you hadn’t.
Budgets are an essential aspect of keeping a close eye on expenses generally and even more so when you’re on a trip. It might sound like a lot of brain work and mathematical calculations but it’s not, and the good thing is you’re already doing it one way or another in your daily life. Consider this, If you didn’t actively factor in the cost of rent, groceries, utilities, and other expenses into your monthly income, you’d be in so much debt and barely able to afford anything because you’ll be overspending and coming up short on other necessities. You don’t live in a mansion for a reason.
A travel budget basically involves estimations, assumptions and expenditure planning to help you, save money, manage expenses, and avoid unnecessary debt when travelling or preparing to. Contrary to what many think, It is a really simple process and we’ll show you how to get it done in 5 short steps.
Step 1: Can you afford it?
This is an important question you need to ask yourself before planning any trip.
If you are indebted or have a lot of outstanding bills (such as credit card debts and interests) to take care of, it is only wise that you settle them, at least, to an extent that they don’t have you and your finances in a chokehold.
At StayCircles, we believe that everyone should experience some epic trips over the course of a lifetime. The world has so much to offer, that living in, or only really experiencing one place all your life just doesn’t seem right. Exotic destinations including the Bahamas, Cancun, Barbados, Kenya, Peru, Amsterdam offer remarkable sights and sounds that are best experienced in person.
Step 2: Do your Research
This is the super important step so pay attention here.
Having a clear picture of where you are going, where you’ll be staying, how you’ll move around, what you’ll eat, and what you'll be doing will help you avoid costly sneak attacks and give you an idea of the resources required to make your travel dream come true.
To determine where you are going, you’ll need to confirm if your destination is ideal for the time you would be visiting. Many tourist attractions have specific times in the year you can visit. Any other time and you would have the weather to contend with. A simple google search should help you confirm this. You’d be happy with yourself for taking a few minutes to get this information instead of travelling hundreds or thousands of miles to see an attraction only to be greeted by a sign at the gate that says “ Sorry, we’re closed till November”.
Wherever you are going, you’ll need a safe place to lay your head and keep your belongings. Skip hotels and save hundreds of dollars by using your StayCircles app to check your map for friends and friends-of-friends who live at your travel destination. Book a free stay with them by sending them a stay proposal.
On the off chance that you do not have any connections in the area, a simple search will bring up hotel possibilities with contact information. Put a call across to get their rates and confirm additional services such as airport pickups. However, your google search will only give you a fraction of the accomodation opportunities and packages available.
If you’ll be moving around a lot, you may be better off renting a car for the duration of your stay. If you don’t need that level of flexibility, there are ride sharing apps and other local transportation means you can consider.
Once your research is complete, you should have a list similar to the below. Some of these costs will be fixed and some will vary depending on how long you will be travelling for.
- Flight costs
- Airport parking and other costs (ATM charges, visas, luggage etc)
- Lodging costs
- Transportation costs
- Food and Refreshments
- Travel Insurance
- Attractions and activities
- Shopping and souvenirs
- Utilities costs (Phone, Internet etc)
- Emergencies and miscellaneous ((rental car, metro passes, trains between cities)
Step 3: Putting it all together
Your best bet here is to use an excel spreadsheet so you can easily sum up, review and get an accurate overview of how much you are planning to spend on your trip. Be as accurate as possible and avoid mistakes. You don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot by keying in the wrong figures and finding out mid-vacation that your meal budget was for 4 days instead of 5!
Step 2 should give you a near accurate budget. Make sure the figures are realistic before entering them into the spreadsheet and confirming the total estimates. If the total is above your initial estimates, then you might have to work a little more to make up for the extras or simply chip away at some excesses. Lesser attractions, two meals per day instead of three… it all depends on you!
Once you have it all, you should also consider things like exchange rates, ATM fees etc. These things can squeeze some extra dollars out of you and it is best to give a little allowance for this. This will usually fall under miscellaneous, that is if you haven’t chipped it away. Just a heads up!
Step 4: Funding your Budget
You’re almost there!
If you have set aside some money and the total falls within the money you budgeted, then it is time for your vacation. If not, then it is time to source money for your trip. Depending on your income, a smart approach would be to split the budget into amounts that you can easily deduct from your income and stash in a savings account so you don’t spend it.
You can also set up a standing debit order to do the deductions automatically so you don’t have to wrestle with how much you are taking out for your vacation versus other needs and impulses that may not be as important as your trip.
Once funding goal is achieved, it is time to pack your bags!
Step 5: Monitoring your Budget
You’re in a gift shop in Zurich and you spot a really nice souvenir that would be perfect in your living room. It wasn’t in your budget and would cost you an extra $230. You whip out your credit card at the checkout point and look the other way.
No! Stick to the budget!
Impulsive buying decisions are some of the greatest threats to travel budgets and yes, it can be hard to get a handle on. If you’re going to have a vacation free of debt or regret, you just have to be able to turn a blind eye. It is easy to go on a shopping spree in a souvenir shop that looks like it was built specially for you. It is also heartbreaking to have to return home to hundreds and thousands of dollars worth of debt simply because you couldn’t shut your eyes to something.
A key aspect to successful travel budgeting is being able to track and monitor your expenses. Building and keeping to budget requires a lot of focus and discipline but the calm and peace at the end of it is worth the effort.
There are budget tracking mobile apps that can help you keep an eye on your expenses and budget goals while travelling. You can search reviews of travellers online to determine the one that works for you. These apps are only as good as the information you provide and your updates if you want accurate results.
Travel budgeting is not only about saving costs, it is also about planning ahead for unforeseen situations. You would not want to miss an experience or activity simply because you did not budget for it. Budgets are all about coming up with realistic travel costs and making your trips a little more comfortable and fun. So bring out your calculator and start punching your way to a memorable and stress-free travel experience.
About Adventure Machine
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