This is a guest post by Adriano Comegna. If you would like to guest post on the AirTreks Travel Blog please read our submission guidelines.
When you’re jetting off on a big trip, the last activity on your must-do list will be sitting around worrying about money. Travel is meant to be an escape from life’s practicalities, not a reminder of them. But if you don’t plan at all, the credit card bill you encounter upon your return may be enough to necessitate another good escape. Budgeting your expenses ahead of time will help you let go and enjoy the moment without worrying about overspending.
Before you begin thinking about the trip, open a special savings account dedicated just to this cause. This will help you set goals while also protecting those funds from any impulse shopping you might be tempted to do throughout the work year. Then it’s time to start thinking about what kind of trip you’d like to take. Fancy hotel, hostels or camping? This decision will affect your financial planning from beginning to end.
Like any good day-to-day budget, your trip spending should be divided into categories like food, transport, activities, accommodation, insurance and fun. A good Internet search about your destinations will help you determine just how expensive items in each category will be. If you intend on going to tourist sites, prices will be inflated. You can expect to pay two to three times more for everyday items, so account for this accordingly. The same goes for transportation, both flights and ground vehicles cost money. Accommodation during peak season and around the holidays are more expensive as well. Try to travel when traffic is reduced to keep these expenses low.
Even the best-laid plans can be undone once you’re on the road, so it’s good to brainstorm ways to track spending as you go. A designated checking account might make a nice companion for your trip savings account so that you can put aside a set amount and spend no more. Consider giving both yourself and your children allowances, taking out cards loaded with a limited amount of funds, or using cash so that you can visualize how much you’re spending. If you’re really on a tight budget, put a certain amount of money to spend each day in envelopes or keep a log of purchases in a small notebook.
Now that you’ve got a basic idea about costs, there are many ways to keep the prices down so you have more money to spend on the things you really want. If you’ll be staying in one place for more than a week, renting a short-term apartment or arranging a housesit can be highly cost-effective. Prices will be comparable to or less than a hotel, and having a kitchen will save you a bundle. Even when staying in a hotel, determine whether you need every meal to be an extravaganza or if you can replace the restaurant with a local supermarket at least twice a day. Don’t underestimate the power of small, overpriced purchases like drinks and snacks to build into very large ones.
Overall, remember this motto: main strips are for looking, not touching. It may be tempting to take a rest in that busy café right in the central square, but walking several blocks over to that hidden gem can save you from paying the price of diamonds.
Budgeting and getting the most out of your trip can go hand in hand, just as long as you prioritize your indulgences and account for them ahead of time. Determine what “quality” means to you, and consider going for a shorter period if it means living it up for the time you have. After all, this is your tip, and traveling well should be written into the fine print on your boarding pass.
Adriano Comegna writes for Thomson Holidays, a leading travel operator specializing in package holidays.
Photo credit: Latin America For Less