Developing a Budget For Your Next Trip

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I have said it before and I will say it again, travel is possible for all ages and incomes.  But unless you are a millionaire, regardless if you are staying in a hostel or a five star hotel, everyone needs a budget.  And frankly, a trip is more fun if you have saved and/or paid for it in advance than paying for it years later.

The Obvious:  

Airfare is the biggest single expense.  It is not likely you will forget to include it in your budget.  But don’t forget to factor in taxes (not always included in the first price you see online).  Also think about the extras.  Are checked, or even carry-on bags included in the price?  Do you need to pay to reserve a seat?  Will you buy food or water on the flight or in the airport?

Hotel is the second largest expense but much easier to find something in every price range.  Again, don’t forget to factor in taxes.  To find a better deal, make sure to use more than one travel site including the hotel’s!

Rental Car and Gas if needed:  Cares  will always be cheaper if you can reserve it ahead of time.  Check both travel sights and the rental companies directly.

Less Obvious but can sneak up on you and Break the Bank: 

Visas and other fees:  Check out the Department of State website before you travel so you know the applicable fees and restrictions.

Tips:  $1-$2 or 10-15% can add up over several several days and weeks.  You will tip at restaurants, your tour guides, your drivers, bellboys, valet parking, concierge …

Parking (If you rented a car)

Water / snacks – This also adds up quickly.  $1-2 (some locations will be more than $5) per bottle and during a one week trip for two in the summer you could easily spend over $60 in water alone.  If worried about the cost, you can bring a refillable bottle, purchase at a grocery store off the tourist track or even bring your own water purification if that is a concern.  Same with snacks.  These are easy to bring from home or stop at a grocery store to avoid a museum cafe or tourist trap.

Meals – Similar to hotels, this can fit any budget.  Just make sure to plan a budget and then stick to it.

Drinks – A glass of wine, beer or coffee in a new destination is a great way to people watch and feel like a local.  But again, one glass of wine a day can easily add $100 to your trip.

Other Transportation – How are you getting from the airport to the hotel?  What about while seeing the sights?  Are you seeing a nighttime show and planning on a taxi?  Public transportation is convenient and cheaper than the alternatives but again can easily sneak up on you if you haven’t thought about it ahead of time.  But even public transportation needs to be factored in.  A $3 per subway trip can quickly add up to $60 a couple of hundreds of dollars for two people over a week.

And of course plan for Souvenirs

A trip can be done on any budget.  Just make sure you think through your trip and plan accordingly so sticker shock doesn’t ruin your trip and make you pay for it long after your bags are unpacked.

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