The Ultimate Guide to saving, budgeting for travel. Before we dive right in, I wanted to introduce myself. Hello, my name is Sandra. I love to travel and I really see it as an investment in myself. I have a feeling you do too. You’re ready to plan your next trip and you want to learn how to save money to budget better?
So that you can do all these awesome things that you’ve been dreaming about. But we’re finally going to make it happen. So today we are going to make your dreams more concrete and get you right on your way to jet setting off to your next big adventure.
Before we start, I wanted to give you a bit of an outline of what we’re going to be covering in this post and all the things that we will accomplish as well.
- So first I will share with you my quick and dirty money hacks that are easy things that you can start today. Sometimes you don’t even need to lift a finger to get going on these so exciting.
- We’re going to talk about 20 plus really easy ways to earn some extra cash other than your nine to five, of course, to make sure your travel fund has all the necessary funds for you to go on your next adventure.
- Next, we’re going to assess your monthly spending habits. I did this not too long ago. It’s a little scary but we’re going to do it together and it’s going to be great.
- We’re going to identify concrete ways to cut your everyday spending so that you can have more for your travel fund.
- We’re going to discover your travel values so that you can help you plan your Budgeting for travel appropriately.
- And finally, we’re going to start planning your dream vacation today.
Let’s not wait any longer. Let’s hop right to it so that you can have a concrete goal to work towards. I am so beyond excited for you. You are a go-getter and are committed to making your next adventure both enjoyable and affordable. Today we’re going to put in the hard work so that your next trip is doable.
Talking about finances and Budgeting for travel isn’t always fun, but you’re so smart to be thinking about these. Tackling your travel budget will give you both peace of mind and the ability to travel more. All it takes is a bit of planning and the desire to see the world. Pat yourself on the back for doing hard things, and let’s get planning! Download the resource file from below.
Easy Money Hacks
I am going to start out with my number one piece of advice if you are able to apply for a travel rewards credit card. No matter what trip, if you’re anyone who likes to travel in any capacity. This is such a great investment.
Bank of America travel rewards card
The one I use is the Bank of America’s travels rewards card. That goes towards any hotel any fly no specific air carrier or whatnot which I like. Because it gives you flexibility in that regard.
Southwest Airlines card
My family, on the other hand, has a Southwest Airlines card. And if you rack up enough points you can get some really great deals. And those are great for domestic flights.
Chase Sapphire card
Next to the Chase Sapphire card. I’ve also heard great things about which are great for international flights. Maybe you really like a specific hotel and you would like to get one of those cards or even just a cashback credit card that you can put towards any of the fun adventures that you’ve got.
some other quick money hacks I’d like to address. Look into those travel fees before you go whether that’s credit or debit cards. Airlines avoid fees because that is just a silly way to spend money. You might hear otherwise. I think it’s best to order currency before you go. You might get a better rate there. You never know if you’re getting swindled. I like to do it before ordering through my bank. And so, I have it before I go. So, there’s a bit of convenience there but I definitely recommend that.
Setting aside loose change
Another easy one just setting aside loose change what’s 40, 50 cents here and there can really add up. Another easy way to get some money for your travel fund devotes your tax refund. That’s money you didn’t have before and you weren’t expecting hopefully for that year. But that is a great easy way to put money towards your next adventure.
Hopper, kayak, Sky Scanner
Also take a look at sites like Hopper, kayak, Sky Scanner for the best times to buy plane tickets. Also, when it comes to saving you might want to look into your bank and see if there’s any way that you can put your money not just a savings account but a for a specific goal. It would depend on your bank. But definitely look into that because that could be an easy way so that you don’t just have one savings account but you have a savings account and one for your specific trip.
Next, we are going to look at some 20 plus ways to earn some extra cash (outside of your nine to five). I won’t discuss all of these. So, I’m just going to highlight some of my favorites.
Focus groups, I worked at a law firm for a while and we would put a notice on craigslist for focus groups of people to come in and listen to our case and hear what they think and use that in mediation if necessary. That’s a really easy way. If you have a couple of hours on an evening, a couple of hours on a Saturday to listen to a case and that is something you might not have thought of before.
Advisory panels as well. This is not a commercial for Bank of America. I just have found a lot of success with them. But I’m on one of their advisory panels and they send out digital surveys. I don’t know maybe once a month and once you accrue enough points you can redeem those for gift cards.
Plugins to your browser
Another one I want to point out which is unbelievably easy is plugins. Add plugins to your browser. Some of my favorites are Rakuten which used to be rebates and that literally gives you money back for places you’re already shopping sometimes up to like 12 percent. Look into that. I have made probably around 30 bucks through that.
Honey is another one with great coupons. Southwest Rapid Rewards and surveys they’re such easy ways to get a couple of bucks here and there and it adds up over time.
Definitely take a look at the rest of this and see if some of those might fit your skills. The bottom line is there are so many ways in this day and age to make an extra buck. And that is something you can put towards your next adventure and we’ll make it so much more attainable.
Let’s Goal Set| Budgeting for travel
Before we dive into the numbers and looking at your daily spending, I want to take a minute for you just two goals set. To dream for a minute. Just take several moments to think about why you’re even reading this post and why traveling is important to you.
Have there been moments in your life where a travel experience really helped you understand yourself? Those around you the world. Was it just so darn fun? You just want to do it again. Anything goes here. There’s no wrong answer and let’s get a little more specific.
We are some of those bucket list destinations that you want to travel in the next five years. These don’t have to be lifetime bucket lists. But maybe you’ve been talking about a trip to Paris and climbing up the Eiffel Tower for so long. And it’s about time to make it happen.
Maybe you’ve been taking a Spanish class and you really want to practice that and go hiking in Machu Picchu. Maybe it’s getting your snorkeling or scuba license. I don’t know. And you want to go to Australia and snorkel on the reef. There are so many amazing opportunities and adventures awaiting you out there.
And I’m not saying you’re going to be able to do everything you’d ever want. But right now, let’s just dream and shoot for the stars and see what we can make happen. As we look at your budget. All right, take a minute to reflect and to think about where you want to go.
Analyzing Your Budget
So now that we found some ways to add some income to your bank account to make that travel fund even bigger. Let’s take a look at some ways that we can cut back day to day spending. So here I wrote out all this person’s expenses. This is not my own expense just inspired. But we’re going to take a look at what this person is spending, and how we could potentially improve it.
After this, you are going to be doing the exact same thing. Even if you have a credit card statement, even if you can access it on your bank account, write it out. Write it on paper if you want you can type it out but write out each and every one of your expenses and categorize them.
So, let’s take a look at this person. They spend $100 at Target, $50 Aldi, $24 that Ban.do, big band Super Cute stuff. I can’t say no. It’s hard. Eating our $50 going out for drinks. $50 for dollars at McDonald’s. I have a really bad McDonald’s coke addiction. So, I don’t feel sorry about that. Uber $60, Gas $100 dollars. Trader Joe’s $45 dollars and coffee $53. So, that adds up to $636. And while I don’t know what your budget is this might look guys might look low.
I don’t know but this is all non-fix. So, this is all the extra stuff not necessarily extra stuff but not rent utilities, etc. But let’s think about some ways we could potentially cut back on this person’s budget. Do you really need all those things in the Target dollar spot? Do you really need that face mask? You really need to fill in the blank.
Maybe you say OK. A hundred dollars is not what I want to be spending at Target. I know for me I was like Kristen we’ve got to stop grocery shopping at Target. It’s just too expensive. And so, I spent more money on all the. But I got way more bang for my buck and spent less money at Target. So, you see this person is now for the following month going to spend more all the and less at Target for groceries.
Sometimes you just got to bail out. But this is another thing to potentially consider not always buying fun extra things every month.
Eating out, Drinks, McDonald’s
We’re going to find some good ways to still spend time with friends but maybe not spend as much. Drinks maybe this person only goes out for happy hours instead of buying full-price drinks. McDonald’s I got to have my coke.
If you’re not drinking as much you probably won’t be spending as much on Uber or perhaps you walk more or public transportation. Gas, you might not be able to change that it’s going to cost the same amount to drive to work and that’s OK.
Coffee maybe we consider making at home and not going out to Starbucks every morning. It’s hard but it’s doable. And maybe we just don’t shop at Trader Joe’s or we only buy those few specialty items there. I know I can wrap up a huge bill, hit Trader Joe’s.
so, now it’s going to be your turn. But before we get going on that I want to share some tips that have helped me. First of all, you can use a tool like Mint, where they categorize all your expenses for you. Depending on the kind of person you are. I personally just like writing them out myself but if you like these fund tools, I will sometimes look at it. I sometimes won’t but I’ve had some luck with that.
So, some quick tips to cut back spending without totally changing your lifestyle.
Shopping for groceries
Shopping for groceries at somewhere like all the verses target or Trader Joe’s. For you, you might be a real health night or you really love Target and it’s convenient. That’s totally fine. This whole point is just to see where you’re spending more money than you realize or you’d like to be spending. So, if you want to be spending all your money on groceries at target more power to you. That’s totally fine.
Buying alcohol at happy hour price
Another way to cut back money is by considering only buying alcohol at a happy hour price instead of full price. This is tricky and I know not easy. But something to consider, because that will truly cut your alcohol bill in half.
Maybe it’s making coffee at home before you go to work or I know at my office we have coffee there. So maybe talk to your co-workers about seeing if that’s in the budget. So then not only do you not even have to go to Starbucks, but you don’t even have to pay for coffee to make at home and save time too.
I prefer to pack my lunch. I know some people don’t have the time or just energy to do this and that’s totally fine. But for me, I’ve saved so much money packing my lunch. I would rather spend that money on eating out lunch with my friends on the weekend or going to dinner that night instead of during the workday.
Another helpful thing for me is I’m a very social person. I love meeting with people multiple times a week. And that can get expensive. And one way to cut back there is going out for coffee or drinks or ice cream instead of dinner. Because dinner that bill adds up pretty quick or maybe even have them over for dinner.
So, the way that I like to handle it is whenever I get my paycheck, I immediately pay off all my bills and assuming it wasn’t a super crazy month of finances. I’ll try to set aside some amount into my savings account before I can even get to it.
So, once it’s out of checking it’s hard to spend great weight to add some more money to your travel fund. So now it is your turn. Go ahead. Follow along in my workbook. If you have that or just on a piece of paper write out last month’s expenses and categorize them.
Discovering Your Travel Values
So now that we have taken a look at your daily budget, and we’ve thought about why you’re even reading this post and where you want to go. Let’s hop, to starting to make a travel budget. But here’s where we have some fun. I think this is a serious fire whenever I’m looking at Pinterest or different bloggers or travel guides. I really think they don’t take into account that there are so many different kinds of travelers.
For example, I love traveling. But listen here. I hate camping. I will not camp. That’s OK. There’s adventure travel there’s luxury travel. And I wish I had the budget for that right now. But you know what I don’t. And that’s OK. There are, so many kinds of travelers out there and I went to tailor this budget to make it yours.
I want to focus on individual sizing your budget to make it successful. So, here’s what I have come up with as different travel values.
You might love really nice restaurants. Michelin, Rated, James Beard, Award-winning all the great things. That could be one of your travel values.
Maybe it’s the nightlife. You like to stay up late you’re a night owl you want to head up the bar scene. Awesome. Cool.
Maybe it’s pacing. You love doing everything. I’m thinking of my father here who likes to get up at the crack of dawn and do as many things as you possibly can. On the flip side, it might mean just relaxing. You just want to chill out on the beach not do a lot. Awesome. Totally fine. But it’s a good thing to talk about with the people you are traveling with.
Next is lodging and maybe not staying in a five-star hotel, maybe it’s camping, maybe it’s in a nice little B and B or boutique hotel. if that’s a value of yours you are willing to spend more money on it.
Maybe it’s the transportation you want first-class flights. You want Uber rides, everywhere you do not like public transportation whatever it is. That’s totally fine.
Maybe you love shopping and you buy your entire wardrobe whenever you’re on vacation and you like buying little knickknacks for your house. Totally fine. That’s one of your travel values.
Maybe it’s educational experiences, maybe it’s going to the museums, doing all the fun historical walking tours, you like learning about history.
maybe it’s experience. You love skydiving or parasailing doing really fun exciting boat tours, dolphin cruises. What have you wanted something that you’ll pay for and you get a great experience out of?
Here my 8 travel values and I’m going to encourage you. We’ll get there. Don’t worry. For you to eventually pick three. If you’re traveling with other people this is something, you’re going to want to talk about to make sure that you can plan your budget accordingly.
I want to tell you a little bit about mine. So, you get a better idea of what we’re working with.
For me, I want to be safe, wherever I stay. I want to be in a safe area and some you know just not in a shady motel. I want to have some amount of quality. But at the same time as long as it’s clean and safe. I don’t really care about staying in the nicest hotel. I am there to see the city. I am there to do things to try new things. I don’t really care about spending a bunch of money on a hotel. So, lodging isn’t exactly one of my travel values.
Transportation that I enjoy
Next as far as transportation. I enjoy taking public transportation. I think it’s a great way to get to know the city. It’s also cheaper. I enjoy it. I don’t want to pay for first-class seating on an airplane. I think that’s so much money I would rather spend the money once I get there. So, for me, transportation probably isn’t one of my travel values.
Shopping that I enjoy
I can buy a postcard and a map and maybe a piece of jewelry and I’m done with souvenirs. I would rather pay for experienced things, instead of buying a bunch of stuff. Also, there’s no way I could fit it into my suitcase, I’m usually barely zipping me up on the way there. So, shopping isn’t one of my travel values.
Dessert + Coffee
I’ll tell you what hour my travel values are dessert and coffee. So, I quantify with dessert and coffee instead of food because I will go a little cheaper perhaps on basic meals. But I will ball out on dessert and coffee because those are important to me. I have a major sweet tooth and I will buy gelato. I will buy a nice lot today because that’s important to me. And that’s OK. So, I allow that into my budget.
My next travel value for me personally is educational experiences. I really enjoy going to museums and different world heritage sites. Whatever you have. I like learning history. I enjoy these kinds of things and I’m willing to pay for it.
Buying experiential moments
I’m also big into buying experiential moments. I went parasailing in Florida and that was incredible. We took a dolphin cruise a sunset cruise all these fun things. And for me, that’s worth it. I will pay to go up the Eiffel Tower even though I’ve already done it before. And some people can look at it and just be ok with it. But for me, I need to do it.
So now it’s your turn. What are your travel values? I’m going to give you a couple of minutes to write on a piece of paper or if you’re following along in my workbook for you to decide what your top three travel values are. This will help us when you’re planning your budget and make things a lot easier.
Making a Game Plan
OK, it is really time to get planning. To put your pen to paper. Let’s do this thing. So, if you have a piece of paper or you’re filing along in my workbook go ahead and take that out. Let’s take a look at your estimated trip total. You might not know that right away. But let’s take it to line by line.
Your lodging and your flight or road trip to the destination are going to be a little less flexible. Once you have those locked in do your best use all those tips that we talked about to get those as cheap or pay with them with points as you can. but add those up and then take a look at how much is transportation around the city going to cost. Look at Metro costs, Ubering all that fun stuff.
And then food and drink. How much do you want to spend? Look at those travel values. Is that something that’s important to you or would you rather a lot more money for shopping or for your activity budget and then always leave some room for miscellaneous.
There’re so many extra things that come up but I want you to write these outline byline when you start researching for your trip. This is what you’re going to want to refer back to and especially those travel values. So, let’s do this thing.
Travel Budget Example
Now here comes the fun part. We are going to start putting numbers down. So, I want all of you to open your workbooks pull that document up. Pull it out and flip to Page Six, where it says trip budget. I have it up right here. And so, a little bit before this page you’re going to be looking at your travel values and how that impacts your travel budget. But right now, we’re going to skip ahead just so I can give you an example of what this would look like.
Let’s say I want to go to Paris for spring break with my best friend in March. And I found a room that is about fifty-three dollars per night. And if I’m there for six nights it’ll be around four hundred and thirteen dollars, and lodging is not one of my travel values. I want somewhere safe. I want somewhere clean but I’m really there to see the city, not the hotel apartment.
So, although that’s fifty-three dollars a night and it’s four hundred and thirteen for the total I’m splitting it because I’m going with my best friend. So, that’ll be around two hundred and five dollars give or take.
Now looking for flights this is where the money really adds up which can be scary but it’s going to be OK. So, I found a flight for eleven hundred dollars. And I have a travel credit on my travel rewards credit card. So, let’s say instead of the eleven hundred I can get a three-hundred-dollar credit. So, it’s really just eight hundred dollars.
Food and drink budget
Let’s take a look at our food and drink budget. I like to do per day budget that just helps me keep track of everything. Maybe you just put it in a lump sum and that’s how you remember it. But I like doing a per day so let’s say I want sixty dollars to eat every day for lunch, breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, ice cream, dessert whatever have you. So, times six. And that is going to be three hundred and sixty dollars.
Shopping next, let’s say I want to buy a new top and just maybe a new purse or whatever the wind blows my way.
Then my activity budget. This is one of my travel values. I’m very big into museums. I love Experimental things when I’m traveling and like to do really fun things. So, this is where I want to put some good money. So, $15 dollars a day doesn’t sound like much. Maybe we can reevaluate that see what it looks like at the bottom line. But fifteen dollars a day will add up to ninety dollars for six days.
And then you know some days I might not go to a museum and I can add that up later. But you know what. I wrote that down and that looks kind of low. But that’s OK. We’re going to go back and we’re going to re-evaluate.
I like having some wiggle room maybe you know for metro, passes a hundred dollars with a room. Just to be safe. We’re going to ignore the other sections if there’s something else on your specific trip that you’re looking at. That might be a good place to fill it up. But on this trip, I’m not going to.
That’ll be one thousand six hundred and thirty. OK, I’ll look at that number for some of you. You might say Great. That’s even lower than I thought. I have some more room to spare and I can add more to my budget. For some of you. You’re like Holy crap. That’s really scary. I need to re-evaluate this. Take a look over your budget and think about it again.
So, let’s just quickly line by line
Fifty-three dollars a night in Paris. It’s a little further out but I don’t mind public transportation. That’s an awful lot. So, I think we’re good at the lodging and it’s not one of my main travel values. So, I’ll be OK with that. Let’s go down to flight road trip gas money transportation what have you. Eight hundred dollars. It is a big number but flying to Europe is expensive.
But here are some extra tips. I want to add in. Let’s re-evaluate those flight options. For example, are there any introductory credit card offers. Sometimes when you open a credit card, they give you a whole bunch extra point. Just you know in those first couple months to encourage you to use it. That is a great way you could cut that down to say, let’s say 500. All that’s already 300 dollars back just by doing some planning and looking up.
Also, be sure to check apps like Rome to Rio or hopper which track different flights and their prices. And the best way to get somewhere also kayak and Sky Scanner are great resources. So, if you think you’ve found the best flight, wait also don’t book it right away. Flight prices fluctuate big time, and apps like copper will tell you, oh you should wait, because this is probably going to go down, or this is the best price. You better just book it so doing your homework really does save you money.
Food and drink budget
Food and drink. I’m a big dessert gal. I love coffee. Love those kinds of things. But other than that food is not one of my travel values. Sixty dollars a day for some of you that might seem low, for some of you that might seem high. But if I eat breakfast at the hotel that is going to save me so much money. So, let’s say I drop it down to $40. Maybe that’s low. Whatever your heart desires. So, that’ll cut it down by over $100 dollars. That’s huge.
Maybe I just get a postcard and a T-shirt, instead of other things my heart desires in the shops always. I’ll be OK. Because shopping is not one of my main travel values. But activities are maybe I went up that up, and that’s OK. So, maybe $25 dollars a day. That adds up.
Then miscellaneous that’s just my wiggle room. So, once you adjust your budget, that’ll help you think about what your travel values are and how much you actually want to be spending.
Other helpful tips
So, some other helpful tips. Eat breakfast at the hotel like I mentioned or make it at your rental place. Sleep in. Eat a late breakfast slash early lunch and then you’ll only have to paper two meals. Do you really need to be spending that much on shopping?
The bottom line is to look at those travel values. Where do you want to be spending your money? Some things are naturally going to cost more than the others. But where can you cut back and where do you really want to invest?
Do they align with your travel values and do they align with your bottom line? So, take a look at those, I believe in you. You can do this. This is so exciting. Work it out. It’s going to take you to know to write in a pencil. It’s going to take a few tries, but you got this. Go for it.
Traveling with a Group and Compromise
One question I’ve got when it comes to planning a travel budget is how to compromise? how to travel with other people? Wouldn’t it be great if we could just choose the entire itinerary ourselves and do whatever the heck we wanted? That sounds great right? But we like to travel with our friends with our family and it’s more fun to see the world with other people.
This is definitely a great conversation to have before you go. So, I’m going to give you my quick tips especially when it comes to travel budgeting, because money is an object most of the time. And I want to share these tips with you so that it goes a lot more smoothly.
Look at and assess travel values
First off ask your travel companions to look at and assess their travel values. Share with them what I have taught you, and that we have learned together is that we all have different priorities when it comes to budgeting. Just what we want to do while we travel.
See what travel values overlap
Also see what travel values overlap, you may never know. You might have a lot of similar ones. Maybe they really are foodies like you are. Maybe they’re not. But long story short, have everyone write down their top three see what overlaps and perhaps all could split off. The people who really like food can go spend more money on that or have more of the experience or education and whatnot. Some things you will have to compromise probably where you stay? how you’re getting there? But there are ways to compromise.
Make a Google Doc | Budgeting for travel
Next make a Google Doc and how if everyone makes a wish list. I’m headed to France with my mom and sister soon, and we’re all super different people. but what I did is I made a Google Doc and wrote, all of our names and said all right if everyone could do everything, they wanted what would that be include links to everything you want in your wish list. And from there we can work out and figure out how we’re going to compromise.
Choose and agree on a system
Choose and agree on a system whether it’s that each person gets a day. So, a Kristen anywhere. OK. We’re going to do everything Kristen wants to do today. Or that each person gets to choose an activity every day. You know someone gets to choose the breakfast spot, someone gets to choose the activity that day.
I think the second option might be, make everyone a little happier if you don’t have an entire day. But whatever works for your group you’ll figure it out.
But the bottom line is that you talk about it beforehand. Because the worst thing what you don’t want to happen is you get there and then everybody has a different idea of what time we’re going to leave the hotel every morning? What are we actually going to do? How much are we going to spend? Because people get very upset about money, and this is a great conversation to have before.
So, you can compromise by figuring out what things you guys already have in common or maybe you can split up for the afternoon or the evening some people can go back to bed early, so that everyone is on the same page. You can do this at as possible.
Let’s do a brief recap
- Start planning before your trip by looking into travel credit cards, avoiding fees, ordering currency before the department and saving your tax return.
- Tack on a side hustles whether that’s offering photography services or selling old clothes. It might be as simple as adding a plugin to your browser!
- Re-examine your monthly spending habits and identify areas where you can cut back.
- Define your travel values whether it’s fancy hotels or gourmet desserts.
- Research the details but leave some wiggle room.
- Take a deep breath and enjoy your trip!
Wow, you did it! You are so ready to tackle your next trip. You’ve learned some great tips and tricks to save, earn and budget. But two quick things before you go: I’m also giving you my free Travel Planner Printables, which has everything you need to plan your trip from packing lists to trip planners. If you didn’t download it yet, download it from below.