If you had more money, lots more money, what would you spend it on?
Houses? Cars? Jewelry?
I would spend it on travel.
I think seeing the world, exposing yourself to different scenery and cultures is the best investment you can make in your happiness and well-being.
So the better you budget for it, the more carefree fun you can have while you’re exploring the world.
How To Get Started
1- Figure out how much it will cost
Once you pick your destination, start researching everything you’ll need to spend money on. Everything. The more you include in your budget, the more realistic it will be.
- Travel: will you be flying or driving?
Flying means not only airfare but also the charge to park your car at the airport, baggage fees, food and snacks in the airport and on the plane, a car rental at your destination, car seat fee, gas money, etc.
And road trips involve gas money, food, and snacks while driving, toll fees, a hotel room if you’re making a pit stop for a night on a multi-day driving trip.
The price for a hotel room at your destination, parking fees, valet fees, etc.
This category encompasses anything you’ll be doing while at your destination like theme park tickets, zoo entrance fees, water park admission, etc. As well as any additional fees you might come across like stroller rental, locker rental, money for VIP experiences that aren’t included in admission, etc.
- Meals and snacks
This is a category where you can spend a fortune without even realizing it. Research the menus at your destination if you can, to get an idea of how much money you’ll spend on meals and snacks. Be sure to include extras like tips, valet parking, dessert stops, etc.
This is best planned out ahead of time because impulse souvenir buying can break the bank. It can also leave you with regret when your kids lose or forget about that precious souvenir an hour after you get home from the trip.
For major theme parks, you can likely buy some souvenirs ahead of time and surprise the kids with them when you’re there. They’re just as good as the park souvenirs for a fraction of the cost.
One example is Mickey Mouse ears, which are sold several places for less money than what you’ll pay inside Disney parks. Check out my Guide To Saving At Disney for some other ideas.
And if you’re going to be in any kind of theme park after dark, buy packs of glow sticks for a dollar and take them with you. Trust me!
If you don’t want to or aren’t able to buy souvenirs ahead of time, set a dollar limit or item limit before you go.
Add up your travel budget on this Travel Budget Planner worksheet. See below how to download this printable.
2- Set a savings plan
The earlier you do your budget planning research, the longer you’ll have to set up a savings plan.
Once you have your total savings goal and you’ve determined your travel dates, divide your savings total by the number of weeks until your trip. That way, you can break up your savings plan into smaller, manageable chunks.
For example, if your total savings goal is $3,000 and your trip is in 6 months, you need to save $125 a week.
For a visual motivator to save for your trip, use this Travel Savings Tracker color chart. See below how to download this printable.
How To Stay On Track
1- Track spending while traveling
Planning for the trip means nothing if you go crazy while you’re on the trip. You don’t want balancing your checkbook to feel like a bad hangover when you return home.
An easy way to handle this is to keep track of your spending during the trip, much like you keep track of everyday spending while you’re at home with my printable Cashless Budget Tracker worksheet.
Assign a spending limit for certain categories like gas, food, souvenirs, etc. Keep it up to date at the end of each day based on what you spent.
Grab this travel version of my popular budget tracker worksheet, to keep track of your spending while on your trip. See below how to download this printable.
2- Keep receipts
It never fails, after I get home from a trip and start balancing our bank account, I end up scratching my head trying to remember where a charge came from. If possible, keeping receipts will help make that process a little less stressful.
And by analyzing what you actually spent on your trip, versus what you planned to spend, you’ll be able to tweak your travel planning for the future.
– ‘Life Is An Adventure’ print
– Travel Budget Planner worksheet
– Travel Savings Tracker color chart
– Travel Spending Tracker worksheet
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