Even after months of planning and saving, it can still be stressful to think about how much your travels might cost you. From a short vacation to a multiple-month long backpacking trip, sticking to a travel budget is super important. It’s way too easy to fall into the “But I’m on vacation!” trap of overspending and no one wants to come home to maxed out credit cards. By sticking to your travel budget, you will not only be able to save money but in the long run your careful planning with help you travel longer and farther. Here are a few tips for sticking to your travel budget while on vacation.
Make sure your budget is realistic in the first place
While you might have dreams of traveling the world indefinitely on a strict $5/day budget, realistically that’s probably not going to happen. Travel can definitely be expensive and it’s important that you both research your destination and set realistic expectations. If you need your privacy or enjoy a bit of luxury, you will probably need to bump up your hostel and food budget beyond the starving nomad level. If you are heading to an expensive region like Western Europe, you need to plan ahead for the higher costs.
Speaking of planning ahead…
One of the best ways to ensure you don’t blow your travel budget is to plan ahead. Last minute changes are part of the wonderful spontaneity of travel but when it comes to your overall trip, it is a good deal to have at least a flexible plan in place. Research destinations ahead of time and make sure affordable accommodations are available where you are heading. Check to make sure you aren’t overlapping your trip with a famous festival or event where hostels might sell out leaving you stuck sleeping on a bench or forking over your whole travel budget for the last (over-priced) hotel room in town. Planning ahead will help you avoid costly mistakes.
Spend your money on the things that matter… to You!
The worst part about going over your travel budget is that often times you will look back and think, “why in the world did I spend my money on that?!” Not everyone travels with the same goals in mind and as such, your travel budget should be about saving money for the things that matter to you and cutting costs on the things that don’t. Not a big fan of crazy nightlife? Skip the clubs and look for a cheap bar to hang out in. Love eating out and experiencing local food culture? Consider forgoing a nice hotel room for a hostel bed and you will have plenty of money leftover to spend on delicious dinners out if you want.
Go a bit off the beaten path
One thing to keep in mind, especially when traveling in expensive regions of the world, is that despite the high costs, people still live in these places. That means with a bit of looking you are sure to find the “cheap local bar” or the budget grocery store. Going a bit off the beaten path and getting away from the over-priced tourist destinations will help you save money because you will be more likely to be paying what the locals pay for basic goods instead of marked up prices. And as a bonus, you will get a better, close up look at the local culture you came to see anyway.
Sticking to a travel budget doesn’t have to be hard. Just remember that with a good budget in place, you will have the ability to not only enjoy your trip, but also the peace of mind of knowing that you won’t be paying for it for the rest of your life.
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