How to budget for your trip: A Beginner's Guide

One of the biggest challenges when you want to travel is money; both saving enough money and ensuring you keep your money safe whilst you travel. It's definitely something that has weighed on me and worried me on almost all of our adventures.  Over time though I've picked up a few different tips to help me budget better & keep our money safe when we're away.

Setting a budget

Setting a dollar figure for your budget is ultimately a personal choice - what’s affordable for me may be out of budget for you and vice versa. So I won’t be talking figures, only about how to work out a figure that makes sense to you. The reality is without funds you can't travel, and I have come to the conclusion over the years that your should aim to primarily travel on your own funds rather than using credit cards or loans. Of course this isn't always possible (it definitely hasn't been for us) but working out your budget early on can help make sure you do save the money you need to travel.

Before starting to plan your budget make sure to take into account the conversion rates. This is the secret killer of budgeting because you can spend all this time working out how much you need to save in your local currency only to realise that it’s worth half the value of the currency of where you are going.

Planning your budget can be broken down into five simple steps:

  1. Firstly work out your flights: This is always the biggest expense for me so it's always the first thing I save for.

  2. Next up work out a maximum you would be willing to spend per night on accommodation and multiply that by the amount of nights you’ll be away.

  3. Now do the same for your daily budget, working out a maximum spend and multiplying by amount of days you’ll be away. Make sure you include food, drink, local transport, entertainment and shopping in your daily spending.

  4. Inter - country (or city) travel is next and it’s always a bit tricky if you’ve never been to a place before. This is where a bit of Googling can come in handy to work out approximately how much you will need to have put aside. 

  5. Lastly remember to budget for travel insurance - it’s non negotiable.

I also made this worksheet to help you out if you're into that kind of thing. 


Money while you travel

Having money and feeling secure about your funds is very important when you travel - often you're dealing with a huge chunk of money that you wouldn't normally have. I actually have to thank my husband for the tips below - I’m just stealing them to help you out.

  • Have some of the destination currency on you before you leave: Nothing is worse than landing in a country and just wanting a coffee or a sandwich and not having some cash to buy said items.

  • If you have a layover make sure you have cash in the currency of the country the airport is in.

  • Take cash out in blocks, only enough for a few days at a time - initially we did this unintentionally because we didn’t have ATM’s in every city for our local bank but it did make us feel better because we didn’t have a huge wad of cash in our bags

  • Just put your daily budget in your wallet - at the end of the day anything left over carries to the next day.

So why cash? If you rely on card you can’t guarantee that everywhere will have the capacity to process EFTPOS payments. It also prevents you from overspending because you can see how much cash you have left. Lastly if you’re taking cash out in blocks and then storing some of it safely in your hotel if you then lose your wallet you still have cash you can use.

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo