Money Matters: Budgeting Your Travels

The question we’ve heard the most after announcing our travels is: “How are you affording all of this?!” Getting rid of our bills at home and dipping into our savings helped, but this trip became a possibility thanks to thorough planning and a modest budget.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a 3-day family getaway, or a 1-year trip around the world. Budgeting is essential. For all you know, your dream trip to Paris, India, or Africa could be more attainable than you thought! All it takes is a little bit of research.

Once you know what part of the world you’d like to explore and how much time you have, your itinerary will start making sense as you get a better idea of overall costs.

Immediate Expenses


Kayak, Priceline, Orbitz, Expedia, TripAdvisor, the list goes on… With so many travel sites available, monitoring flights is easy. Keep an eye on how costs fluctuate over a couple of weeks. Then, determine the company that has the best deal on a given day. Monday and Tuesday mornings are usually the cheapest, but airlines might have special offers on other days as well.

When choosing your flights, consider that some carriers charge baggage fees, which will increase your actual costs. Roundtrip tickets are usually the most affordable, but if you’re traveling to more than one city, one-way tickets might be the way to go.

Other Means of Transportation

Perhaps flying isn’t ideal for your vacation. Trains, cruises, and road-trips can provide a completely different experience (not to mention the breathtaking views).

Same rules apply, explore all options available, the pros/cons of each company, and the packages they offer. Rome2Rio is a great tool that does the job for you. All you have to do is plug in your destinations and it will provide different kinds of transportation available as well as their cost: flights, trains, driving, even ride sharing.

If you’re renting a car, budget for parking and gas costs that will accumulate along the way.

Sleeping Arrangements

Booking the perfect stay won’t be possible unless you know what to expect. Check out all pricing available, from the most expensive luxury hotel to the cheapest hostels or alternative housing you can find. This will give you an idea of the average cost per night in each city, as prices can vary significantly depending on your destination.

Once you choose the kind of stay you’re comfortable with, set a daily limit for yourself. How much are you willing to pay per night, and how much should it total out to? Then, find the perfect place! But remember to stick to your set budget!

Airbnb, VRBO, Home Away, the Priceline “build your own price” tool, and even Couch Surfing are all great ways to explore your options.

(You can receive $25 off on your first Airbnb booking by signing up with this code & link: aalba19)

Travel Gear

Are you going camping? Relaxing on the beach? Exploring a wintery city?

Depending on the type of trip you’re planning, you’ll probably have to make some purchases before you leave. Whether it’s a sleeping bag, snow boots, or tanning oil, these are all items you should consider when building your budget.

Expenses During Your Trip

Food & Drinks

One of the highlights of traveling is getting a taste of each region’s cuisine, but trying something new in every city can get expensive. Are you the breakfast, lunch, and dinner type? If so, choose one meal as your central meal. Maybe some free continental breakfast in Greece will do, and you can splurge on a full ouzo and meze lunch or dinner.

Research city guides and travel tips to get an idea of how much each meal will cost at your destination. Apps like Triposo or even regular guidebooks can offer quick and useful suggestions.

In some countries, there are restaurants that offer a “meal of the day” for reasonable prices, while in others, you can get amazing street food for a very low price. Eating the free breakfast in your hotel or cooking some of your own food can save you a lot of money over time.

As far as alcohol, drinks might be overpriced in some places, but you will find that in places like France and Eastern Europe, wine and beer is actually cheaper than bottled water!

Local Transportation

You should have prior knowledge of the forms of public transport available in each location. Most cities with train, metro, or bus services provide bundled prices for transportation and sightseeing such as the Paris Pass and the Berlin Pass. These might be a good option if you plan on using public transportation and visiting several museums.

A transportation cost that is often overlooked: getting to and from the airport. Many airports are located in the outskirts of the city, especially if you’re booking with low-cost carriers. Bus, taxi, and train rides into the city could range anywhere from $10 – $150, so make sure you’re prepared.

Activities & Entertainment

What kind of activities and events would you like to experience? Museums, excursions, tours, and performances could be the bulk of your budget, so plan ahead!

Museums are free in many cities, and are $10+ per person in others. Visit each museum’s website. They might offer free entrance on specific days or special student discounts. As for excursions and tours, explore all options possible but beware of scams and low-quality companies. Customer reviews on Viator or TripAdvisor might come in handy.

At-Home Costs

It’s possible you might need a dog sitter or house sitter. If you’re going away for an extended time, reserve additional funds to cover your bills back home. These expenses should be included in your budget.

Money Matters

Budgeting is ideal for a pleasant journey, but  leave some flexibility for unexpected expenses and spontaneous splurges! Also consider how you will manage your money while you travel.

Getting Cash

Your money may go a long way in some countries, but barely in others. Take into account currency exchange when you budget.

Now, how will you access your money? It’s not wise to carry large amounts of cash at once. Use several forms of payment while abroad, including one credit card and one debit card, but don’t carry them all together. Most banks and credit card companies also charge foreign transaction fees, another item to add to your budget! Finding a bank that waives these fees can also save you hundreds in the long-run.

Rewards Cards & Frequent Flyer Programs

Signing up for some kind of rewards program can help reduce costs on your trip. You might receive a free night at a hotel, a free flight, or even cash back.

There are so many cards and rewards programs out there that can help you get the most out of your trip!

A lot has been covered, so we hope some questions were answered for now.

Happy savings and happy travels!

5 thoughts on “Money Matters: Budgeting Your Travels

  1. Charles Schwab online checking account is fantastic. Free unlimited transactions worldwide. Withdraw small amount of local currency at a time without having to worry about transaction fees or having too much cash on you

    Liked by 1 person

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