This summer I have been traveling like crazy. With all that traveling comes an extra layer of budgeting. But how do you budget for a trip when your budget is maxed out? Some of the trips I’ve taken this summer I budgeted for well, and others were a little more of a struggle. So I’m going to share with you my tips on ensuring you don’t go deeper into debt while you’re traveling.
1. After you have picked your destination, start monitoring flights on Google Flights 2-3 months in advance. You can set up alerts so Google will notify you when flights dip below a certain price range. Decide how much you’re willing to pay for the flight and set the alert for that range.
2. Start looking for a hotel/airbnb/friends couch to crash on, etc. Tip for hotels, book directly with the hotel you are looking into, they will have the lowest rates avaialble and if you find a lower price on a site like TripAdvisor, Expedia, or Travelocity, they will typically price match, plus loyalty points of you travel a lot can help get you things like free nights and upgrades.
3. Create a basic itinerary including all of the place you would like to go and how much the entry fee will be for each activity.
4. Next decide how you are going to get around. Will you need a rental car or can you get where you need to go with public transportation and rideshares (like Uber or Lyft). Get some initial estimates of how much it will cost to get from place to place. If I can, I’ll use public transportation because it will always be the cheapest way to get around just make sure you budget enough time to get around too.
5. Total everything up and see if you think you’ll be able to afford everything you want to do by saving for a few weeks or month before your trip. If you’re shocked at the initial cost of the entire trip, see if there are areas of the trip you can reduce the price. Can you cut out a few excursions, eat fast food for a few meals, get free breakfast at your hotel, or even cook some meals in your hotel/airbnb?
6. After you’ve figured out how much the trip will cost, see how much money you’ll need to set aside per week to afford the trip. There’s nothing wrong with putting the flight and hotel on your credit card, just make sure you can pay them off quickly so you’re not paying interest on them (seriously, this is a mistake I made this summer and that interest adds up quickly).
Traveling is expensive, but you’re paying for experiences and how would you rather spend your money? As long as you are still able to afford the basic necessities of your regular life, live it up and enjoy your trip!
Below is my Seattle Trip Google doc were I budgeted for my most recent trip. I know, I’m super type A haha! I’m pretty sure this is what the inside of my brain would look like though.