I recently had someone ask me about budgeting on vacation so I thought I would write a post for those of you that may need some help in deciding how much money to budget. Here are 5 steps to knowing how much money to spend on vacation.
1. How long are you going to stay?
Think about it, knowing how long you will be in a country/city will greatly help you plan your budget. There is a big different between staying a few days in Paris or staying a week. The longer you stay the more money you will need. There is no right answer as to how long you need to stay in your destination, but you have to figure that out and plan the things you want to see in the time frame you can see them.
If you stay for longer that will give you more options as to what you can do but can you afford it? You need to figure that out before you book your hotel and airfare. You have to think about the exchange rate (if that applies to your travels), how much things cost in your destination, and how you will get around the city to see everything you want to see. Will you take taxis? Is there a metro? Can you ride the public bus and if so is it safe? Do you need to rent a car? All of these things need to be factored in because it will affect how long you can stay in your destination.
2. how much money are you going to spend on your airfare?
Airfare is something you can’t get around paying, it’s one of those fixed expenses in travel. I’m a big advocate of waiting for glitch fares or error fares to travel because you can travel for a substantially lower price. If you can wait for one of these fares you will have more money to spend in your destination but it you choose to book your tickets without waiting for a sale, it wouldn’t make sense to plan everything else out and then wait until the last minute to get your airfare. Start with your airfare and do everything else afterwards.
You need to be certain of your dates because it is no longer free to change the dates of your flights once you have paid for your ticket. Many airlines charge at least $50 to change your flight.
3. Where are you going to stay?
This is the next thing you should do when budgeting. You have to know where you are staying and how much it will cost. Are you renting an apartment? Staying in a hostel? Getting a hotel? Or do you have friends in the area you can stay with? Whatever you decide, it needs to be confirmed so that you know what you will spend on accommodations.
These first three are crucial in budgeting because once these major things are out of the way, you can then figure out how much money you need to bring with you because more than likely these first two expenses will be paid with your credit card.
4. What do you want to see while traveling?
I am not a museum person so unless it’s a famous museum that people would say to me, “Roni/Faida! You didn’t go see (insert famous museum here)” I skip it. Don’t worry, I have seen The Louvre, The Hermitage, The Prado, and I enjoyed them but normally I will skip a museum in a heartbeat. Museums just don’t do it for me so I hardly ever budget for seeing those. I don’t really buy souvenirs and I’m not a shopper so I don’t need money for any of that.
However, I love to eat. Eating out while I’m traveling is one of my favorite things to do so most of my money goes for food. So if I’m going somewhere for a couple of weeks, I have to figure that I’m going to eat out at least twice a day because for breakfast I bring my oatmeal packs and I normally fix my coffee (after I buy it at a local supermarket). You have to figure out what’s important to you and how much you are willing to spend on it.
5. What kind of vacation do you want?
I went to Italy and Paris with two girlfriends a couple of years ago. None of us were traveling with deep pockets but one of my friends (let’s call her Missy) CONSTANTLY complained about money. Before we left she asked me how much she should budget for the day. After she told me what she wanted to do I told her about 100 euro. She said she could do it on 50. Um…ok.
Well, how do you think that worked out? Everywhere we went she would comment on how much things were, complain that the food wasn’t enough for what she was paying, and just made things really uncomfortable and annoying for us.
She was so uptight about spending her money that it permeated everything she did. I personally don’t like to travel like that. I think it’s stressful and when you are traveling with other people, think it’s rude. Neither of us had an unlimited supply of money but we did the things we could and enjoyed them. Missy, however, radiated negativity because she was always upset if we wanted to eat at a nice restaurant or do anything that cost money. If you are comfortable with traveling like that, then that’s fine. but if that will stress you out, figure out what you realistically can do with the money you have and stay within your budget.
What factors do you take into consideration when you are deciding how much money to bring?