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Budgeting For A Vacation

A budget plan is the first step towards memorable vacations. Estimate your out-of-pocket meal expenses, including drinks & snacks for each day of your trip.

Do you worry about costs while on vacation?  This can be very distracting and prevent you from enjoying every day of your wonderful trip. What you need is a good budget plan so there is no shuddering each time your wallet opens!  When you spend, it will be what you expected to spend!

Did you notice I mentioned a “good budget plan” rather than a “good budget”?  A budget plan is the first step towards happy, memorable vacations.  You can focus on having the best vacation experiences rather than worrying about costs.

If you have planned a budget then there won’t be a dark cloud hanging over your wallet. Plan your budget starting with the major expenses, followed by nice-to-have and discretionary spending:


Transportation: You can’t avoid the air tickets, or other necessary transportation.  Research costs of any train tickets, car rentals (including insurance), bus and metro tickets to get around town.  There may be cheaper tourist passes available.  Don’t forget any surcharges for extra early morning airport taxi rides.

Lodging: Hotel, hostel, etc.  Do they offer any discounts for seniors or certain memberships?  Does your credit card offer more cash-back for travel related expenses?

Food: Estimate your out-of-pocket meal expenses, including drinks and some snacks for each day of your trip.

Tipping: Consider gratuities for your tour guides, drivers, cruise ship stewards and other people serving you.  Find out the local tipping practice for hotel staff, housekeeping, restaurant servers, taxis, etc.

Insurance: Buying you peace of mind – research flight, travel delay/interruption and medical insurance.

Luggage: Do you need any new gear or accessories for this trip?  Light and loose clothing for tropical destinations or extra warm clothing for arctic trips?  Seek out rental items for one time use.

Souvenirs and holiday shopping: This is the most difficult category to estimate.  Perhaps just set the amount you are willing to spend and exercise self-control to prevent busting your budget, no matter what attractive items confront you!  Research beforehand the authentic local items that are popular buys so you know which items are good values for you.  Avoid tourist traps and bringing home white elephants!

Emergencies:  It is hard to budget for the unforeseeable, so bring a reliable credit card.  You have already budgeted for insurance haven’t you?

Incidental expenses:  You are on vacation to have a fun and memorable time, and take advantage of serendipitous opportunities, so reserve 10-20% of your budget for some ad-hoc fun moments!

Cash or plastic: See our upcoming blog on using credit cards in foreign countries.


Track Spending

Is your budget plan on track or going off the rails?  It is easy to jot down your daily spending on a sheet of paper, notebook or your smartphone.  This running total will allow you to adjust spending on the fly and make any course corrections.  This is the difference between painless and painful spending!  Don’t forget to include all the small and sundry purchases as these do add up in the end, especially on vacations of a week or longer.

When you book a TripCompanion tour, we’ll share our budget suggestions to give you a starting point.

Fly Confident!