If you would have asked me about a “travel budget” a few years ago, I probably would have stared at you like you’d just grown a third eyeball.
That was before I started using a budget in my everyday life, though. Now that I’ve seen the power of having a budget (principally in not being broke as f%*k all the time), I’ve actually been able to save up some money so that I can afford to travel.
This fall I’ll be taking my first-ever international trip (not counting Canada) abroad, to Peru. The only reason I’m able to take this trip is because I use a budget every day.
Peru is generally considered to be a pretty cheap place to travel, but even so, I’m not about to let my trip get the best of my budget. I worked hard for that money, thanks, and I’m not about to let it all fly out the window with a glorious cry of YOLO!
Nope. Instead, I’ve got plans to reign in my impulses and spending. In this post, I’ll show you what I’m doing to plan out my trip budget and how I’ll stick to it once I’m in-country.
Plan Your Travel Budget
One. Million. Dollars. Mua ha ha!
Remember that line from Dr. Evil in Austin Powers?
Of course I’d like to spend a million dollars on travel, but sadly, I picked a poor version of a sugar daddy. Shoulda gone for Bill Gates (sorry Zach!).
Instead, I’ve got to plan out my budget for what I can spend ahead of time to reign in my spending. Otherwise, the next thing you know, I’ll be buying Learjets, Maseratis, and lots and lots of sushi.
It roughly follows the deets in my last post about how to save for travel.
Should You Track Your Expenses While Travelling?
It can be tempting to just throw caution to the wind while travelling. After all, you’re out having fun, trying to enjoy yourself—how can you do that if you’re fretting over pennies and nickels? Budgets can be tricky enough to keep up with in real life. Now, add 10X more fun things to spend your money on.
Here’s the kicker, though: if you spend all of your money now (or even go into debt and have to pay it off later), that’s less money for you to travel in the future. And you do want to take more than one trip in your life, right?
Related: How To Travel The World On $50 A Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter (affiliate link)
Find A Good Travel Budget Tracking System
Here’s the good news: it doesn’t have to be painful. There are a lot of ways you can track your budget, just like with your normal home budget.
It’s easiest to decide beforehand how you want to track your budget—do you want to have a set spending limit per day, or by category (lodging, meals, tours, etc…)? This can help you pick out an effective travel budgeting system.
Here are a few types to consider:
Each day/week/whatever, withdraw a set amount of cash from an ATM and place it in an envelope. You can either divvy it up by time period or by category, whichever way you choose to track your budget by.
If you have money left over when you withdraw more funds, congratulations! Add it to the pile and save up for later or go splurge on something fancy.
This budget style is great for people who want a cheap/free budget system and need some cold, hard limits on their spending. You can get the yummy street tacos, but no Learjets for you.
With this budget system, you simply keep track of your spending on paper. I suggest a wee notebook because a) tiny notebooks are the cutest things ever, b) it’s easy to keep in a pocket, and c) you can keep as detailed of records as you want.
Of course, you do have to remember to enter in each of your purchases before you forget the amounts, tally it up, subtract from the spending limits, etc… That can be a drag while you’re on vacation, but if that’s your style, then flaunt that flag like hardcore nerd you are. It’s OK. We’re all nerds around here.
Smartphone App Budget
Surprisingly, there are actually a ton of cool smartphone budgeting apps that are specific to travel! Who knew?
Here are a few of the recommended ones:
These can be much easier and more fun to use. Of course, you’ll still have to remember to enter in the deets of each purchase. Apps also will cost you a few bucks; but if that’s what it takes to make you successful in following your budget, it’s well-worth the cost.
Related Post: How To Learn A Language On A Budget
Travel budget planning and tracking doesn’t have to be a drag. If you find a good system that works for you and keep up with it, you’ll be way happier in the end.
You’ll come home to the best financial situation possible, you’ll have more money for future travel, and you’ll still have a great experience to boot.
Have you tried using a travel budget planner before, or tracked your spending while traveling? How well did it work? Leave a comment below!
See the world with my free printable Travel Budget Planner!
Grab the free printable Travel Budget Planner I used to plan a two-week trip to Peru for $650!
This Travel Budget Planner will help you budget for travel, even if you're in debt now. YOLO, but don't go into debt for it!