We all know that traveling has the potential to be very expensive. One of the most effective ways to ensure that you don't spend all of your money on a trip is to create a budget. Setting a budget is one of the tips I outlined in my video/blog post about 5 major ways to save money while traveling. Budgeting is one of the more straight-forward ways to manage your travel money, but can sometimes be difficult to manage.
Before You Plan...
Before you begin to figure out a budget, you have to ask yourself if there are some things that you know that you want from your trip. Is there a specific amount of time you want to spend on your trip? Are there places in particular that you are already starting to plan to visit during the trip? Having a vague idea of your trip will help you to set a viable budget before you start the specific planning. For instance, if you know that you want to spend a week camping, you know that you’ll need to pay for a week’s worth of food and campsites, plus your transportation. You can check to see if that would be compatible with the amount of money you have. If it's not, you may need to think a little bit smaller as far as your trip goes.
After you have a little bit of an idea of what you want to do, start checking your figures to get an idea of a number for a budget. If you’re setting a budget for a trip a few months ahead of time, It may be helpful to do a rough estimation for how much money you will have at the time of the trip. Figure out how much money you are able to save between now and your trip. Include your tax return if applicable or other forms of income. Don’t forget about your bills though! Emergencies can always come up as well, so obviously it’s important to account for a little bit extra in case you need to fix something on your car or your cat gets sick.
Set Your Budget
A little bit of an alternative way to go about this is to set an amount of money and say, “What can I do with _____ dollars?” You set a budget and completely plan your trip around your limit. This may be particularly helpful if your budget is relatively small.
If you are the kind of person who has a difficult time sticking to your budget, try to transfer your other funds to someplace where you can’t easily access them. For instance, if you plan on using a debit card linked to a bank account for the majority of your transactions, perhaps transfer the rest of your money that is not part of your budget into a savings account. You’d still have access to your money, but you’d have to go out of your way to get it transferred into the correct account. This way, you can’t accidentally spend all of your money. If you’re a credit card user, bring a card on your trip that has a lower limit to avoid overspending. In any case, keep access to some emergency funds just in case you get into trouble. These would also be good ways to increase the security of your money in case of lost cards.