Due to the coronavirus pandemic, most of us have spent the last year and a half close to home. But with vaccinations becoming more prevalent, the world is slowly starting to open up again, and travel restrictions are easing. Chances are, you’re ready for a vacation — and you deserve one.
That doesn’t mean burning through all your savings and booking the first flight to Australia, though. If there’s anything this pandemic has taught us, it’s the importance of saving for a rainy day. But if you’re ready to save for a sunny day (aka vacay), be sure to include the following things in your travel budget.
- 1 Take Everything Into Consideration:
- 2 Time to Create Your Budget:
Take Everything Into Consideration:
Before you create your travel budget, you need to know what to include. Here are a few things to consider:
How Will You Pay for Things?
Start by considering whether you want to use your credit or debit card while traveling. Using either kind of card will likely be less risky than using cash, which can be lost or stolen. (A stolen card can always be reported to prevent unauthorized charges.)
Using a debit card will keep your vacation spending within limits because you can only spend what you have. However, some people prefer to use their credit cards to earn awards for their next vacation.
Either way, be sure to inform your bank before going on vacation — especially if you’re going overseas. If you don’t, the bank’s fraud-detection systems may get suspicious and freeze your account.
How Will You Get There?
When creating a travel budget, you want to budget for the big-ticket items first. This includes your mode of transportation. How will you get to your target location? Will you travel by plane, train, or car?
Depending on where you’re traveling, you might not have that many options. For example, you can’t drive to the U.K. from California. But if you’re going from Philly to New York, you could drive, fly, take the train, or even ride the bus.
When choosing how you’ll get to your destination, don’t just consider the cost — consider efficiency as well. Driving might be cheaper, but it may take significantly longer than flying. Are you OK with spending days behind the wheel, or would you rather invest more for a shorter travel time?
Where Will You Stay?
Another big expense is lodging. These days, there are several options when it comes to accommodations. From resorts to motels to Airbnbs, it’s easier now than ever to find a place to stay. Whether you can afford all these options is another matter.
Some hotels offer free meals, which will keep your costs down. Hostels and many Airbnbs come with kitchens so you won’t have to constantly eat out.
Location is key when deciding where to stay; the more popular the location, the more a hotel room will cost. While hotel room rates vary, the average daily U.S. room rate in 2020 was around $100.
You can typically score cheaper digs near airports and in the suburbs, but keep one thing in mind. If you stay off the beaten path, you’ll likely spend more money getting to the sights you want to see.
How Will You Get Around?
Some locations are walkable, while others require a mode of transportation to get from one place to the other. Luckily, we live in the era of Uber and Lyft and don’t have to rent a car to get around. That said, the costs of ride-sharing services can add up quickly. And depending on where you are, local mass transit might not be convenient (or an option at all).
The good news is, in high tourism areas, many transport companies partner with hotels and offer vacationers deals. Make sure you contact the hotel you’re staying at to arrange a service ahead of time.
What Will You Eat?
People often treat food as an afterthought when budgeting for their vacation, but they shouldn’t. Food — especially restaurant food — is expensive, especially if you’re feeding an entire family. While you probably want to splurge on the occasional nice dinner while on vacation, don’t spend so much you can’t do anything else.
Depending on where you’re traveling to, restaurants and grocery stores might be more expensive than back home. Do your research prior to arriving so you can plan accordingly.
Pro tip: All-inclusive destinations are a great option for those who don’t want to budget for food. These resorts typically include meals, drinks, and even activities.
What Will You Do?
Don’t wait until you arrive to figure out the excursions you want to take or activities you want to engage in. Research the cost of attractions beforehand so you can compare price points and hopefully save costs. Having an itinerary before you arrive will help you stay on budget.
Do You Have the Necessary Documents?
Is your passport up-to-date? Do you need any immunizations or travel insurance? Depending on where you’re traveling, you might have to pay additional fees for the right documentation. The good news is, this is pretty easy to figure out. A few minutes on the State Department’s website or talking to a travel agent will tell you what you need to know.
Keep in mind, travel documents can take a while to process, and expediting delivery will cost you even more. Be sure to look into the type of documentation you will need well in advance of your trip.
Any Miscellaneous Costs?
Will you need to hire a dog-sitter or someone to water your plants while you’re away? Make sure you keep these extra costs in mind when developing your travel budget.
Speaking of miscellaneous costs, when it comes to saving, it’s a good idea to over-budget rather than under-budget in case of emergencies. Even the best planners can find themselves in situations where unexpected costs arise.
Time to Create Your Budget:
Once you know what costs to take into account, it’ll be easier to create a realistic budget for your upcoming trip. Now you have to start saving. Fortunately, with such an incentive before you, saving for your trip doesn’t have to feel like a chore.
First, create a timeline. Decide on a departure date, then determine the amount you’ll need to save each month leading up to your trip.
Next, find ways to cut expenses. For example, make your coffee instead of spending $7 at Starbucks every morning. Or live without one of your three streaming services for now. You could also pick up a side job or sell unused items online.
If you still find yourself unsure of how to implement these changes into your lifestyle, there are a number of budgeting tools out there you can utilize that will help to guide you.
The sooner you begin saving, the better prepared you’ll be. Before you know it, your travel fund will be ready to whisk you off on the post-COVID getaway you deserve.