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Travel Hacks: Your Complete Guide to Vacation Budgets


It’s great to get away from the daily grind, but budgets never go on vacation. But, good news! A vacation budget will actually make your trip more relaxing. When you know exactly how much money you have to spend in each expense category while on vacation, you don’t have to stress about how you’ll pay for this getaway when you get back to real life. 

Here’s what you need to know about making a vacation budget.

Set your budget

First, determine how much you can actually spend while on your trip. It’s important to be real here. Otherwise, you may end up paying off this vacation for months, or even years, to come. Do some research on the location you want to visit along with the cost to get there, the price you’ll pay for accommodations and transportation. Look up local attractions to get an idea of how much these will cost. Make a basic list of anticipated expenses and work with that number to set a vacation budget. 

Plan your expenses

Once you have your budget and a basic list of expenses, work on setting an exact dollar amount for each vacation category. Write out your vacation budget so the individual expense categories total the same as your overall budget. If the total amount is outside your affordable range, consider swapping out some expenses for cheaper, or even free, alternatives. 

Track your expenses

Next, you’ll need to track your expenses to ensure you stick to your spending plan. When purchasing airline tickets, making hotel reservations and purchasing items for your trip, be sure to record these expenses. Similarly, when on vacation, keep track of spending. A budgeting app, like Mint or YNAB, can make this easier. 

If you find yourself overspending in any category, look for last-minute ways to cut back. 

Tips for sticking to your vacation budget

  • Use cash. Keeping the plastic hidden while on vacation will force you to stick to your plan. Be sure to keep your cash in a safe place, such as a secure wallet or purse. 
  • Book in advance. Hotel stays, car rentals, tours and more are nearly always cheaper when reserved ahead. You’ll also leave fewer spending choices for your actual vacation when your willpower may be weaker. 
  • Keep a copy of your budget with you on vacation. Make a physical or digital copy of your vacation budget to carry with you during your trip. Pull out your copy whenever you come up against a money challenge on vacation to remind you of your spending plan.

Follow the tips outlined here to enjoy the trip of a lifetime without letting your budget go on vacation.

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