A Travel Budget Guide

Sorting out finances and trying to budget is something that I’ve always struggled with. I’m a big spender and love to shop, so budgeting and I have never really gone hand in hand. On my most recent holiday, I decided to eliminate invalid costs I may spend abroad, and decided that I wouldn’t waste money on irrelevant goods. Before I left for Germany, I decided to make a travel budget, a guide which I have decided to share with you. Budgeting is something that you will have to do throughout your entire life, so why not begin with travel. After all, your 20’s are your chance to pack up your bags and see the world.

How much do I earn?

Before you make yourself a travel budget, consider your salary intake. Are you a student working weekends paying rent, or perhaps you work a 40 hour job a week? Whatever your role pays, you’ll need to consider these factors before planning a future budget abroad. After booking abroad, allow yourself 2 months minimum (depending on the length of your stay) to actively save, unless you’re feeling spontaneous and can afford a holiday within a shorter time frame! I am rather particular when it comes to planning a trip, as I like to set aside the amount I will pay for my hotel and travel expenses, aside from food and entertainment.

Flights & Accommodation

Everyone is different when it comes to organising a future trip. You may be lucky enough to have an income which allows you to pay for upfront hotel rooms, or pay for expensive flights. As I am young and wish to save long- term, I love a juicy bargain. My go- to website is Bookings.com, as I believe it has some of the best deals to date, allowing me to book in advance without any required prepayments. The reason I opt for free cancellation is because I like to keep my options open for cheaper accommodation closer to the time I go abroad. On my most recent trip to Berlin, we booked a hotel which cost us €645 for 3 nights. I cancelled this booking just 2 weeks before our holiday as I had re discovered a hotel much more central and to our liking, at a much cheaper price, at just €300. There was a colosal difference but it also meant that I had lots of savings left over which could be used on spending money if required. This may not be in everybody’s favour, but if you’re a student or may not work full time, it’s an option worth looking into.

Another thing which I like to bargain, is flights. Flights do not always come cheap. I prefer to book flights at peak times, when companies such as Airlingus or British Airways avail of cheap destination deals or sales. I recommend signing up for a newsletter which will keep you up to date on the best flight prices available. When they are as cheap as you believe they could get, make that purchase!! Always stash away €150-300 in your savings for emergency flight bookings, especially when you have pre booked a hotel! Another tip is to book your flights first. On another recent holiday, our hotels had been pre booked at adequate prices in both Switzerland and France, but to our dismay, we booked our flights for the wrong days, meaning our hotel prices differed greatly, causing a financial strain! Always make sure that both your hotel and flights interconnect smoothly. Make enquiries on transport costs from the airport to your accommodation before booking both your hotel and flight. Know your locations and ensure that you aren’t too far from where you’re staying, to avoid unwarranted transport fares!

Make Cutbacks

Before travelling abroad, consider cutting back on current expenses such as eating out, going for drinks regularly or general clothes shopping. I’m the queen of overspending, especially when I’m going on holidays. With Summer in the horizon, try purchasing your Summer wardrobe now to avoid those last minute purchases which can invade your current savings costs! It’s important to restrict all purchases in the coming months before travelling. If you are going on a long haul trip abroad, you may want to consider cutting back on goods such as facial creams or hair products, things you find useful with a short lasting period which are considerably overpriced.

If you’re travelling with small bags, you may need to make liquid purchases under 100ml for your flight. A decision I’ve made over the last number of years is to avoid buying travel kits. I hate doing this because I frighten myself into believing that I won’t find a shop abroad to buy essentials such as deodorants, toothpastes and hair products. The truth is, you will. Supermarkets and convenient stores are widespread in most countries, so pop on to google maps and research the nearest one to you. This will avoid overspending on travel kits, which usually cost double the price of a normal care package.

Research your destination

When you choose a holiday destination, the first thing you must consider is the average price of food, drink and entertainment. When travelling to Europe, it’s almost too easy to ignore prices because European cities are presumably cheap and cheerful! This is not always the case though. Take Paris for instance, it’s one of the most expensive cities in Europe due to its unique history and culture. Food and drink on average will cost you between €8-€15. Before you book a holiday, as yourself, ‘Can I afford this location?’ & ‘Is this out of my league?’ If you’ve hesitated at either of these questions then your location is most definitely out of your league and you may want to reconsider, or chance the Lotto. If you walk into the wilderness, the chances are you’ll be eaten by bears.

Tips:

Note some of the places you wish to visit when travelling abroad and consider writing a price list of each one. If you’re feeling extra perky, consider looking online for coupon discounts on museums and bus tours. This will narrow down some of your costs.

Make a list of all of the restaurants you’ve researched, writing down the average price, giving yourself an idea of how much each meal will cost, or if you can afford it. I recommend writing a day to day list of where you’re eating on average. This will set you aside with an instant daily food budget.

Remember to include the boring costs! When you are writing up your day to day budget, consider the costs you dislike the most. Include possible taxi and bus fares, or emergency funds. Carry extra money in case of unknown emergencies you may face.

Carry Cash

In order to monitor the amount of money you are spending, especially in international countries such as the US, carry cash. Budgeting couldn’t be made easier when carrying a lump-sum with you. It will ensure you know how much money you’ve spent at all times. I advise keeping a little check list on your phone with all of the previous expenses and prices made. It’ll keep you up to date with your purchases and if you have lost money. Another fantastic system is online banking. I personally would only use credit and debit cards in European cities, as the bank rate won’t differ much. If you’re looking to download apps on budget planning, I highly recommend GoodBudget Budget Planner and the Easy Budget Planner- Tracker. They’re easy to use and will do all of the work for you!

Short term financing for holidays is never enjoyable, but it’ll equip you for future budgeting and teach you the workings of how it’s done, and how to be mindful when it comes to managing finances. Utilise these tips where you feel necessary and budgeting will become an easy breeze!