Don’t Bring Your Money Anxiety With You: Everything To Include in a Vacation Budget for a Stress-Free Trip

Shot of a happy young couple relaxing on chairs and having drinks at sunset on the beach.
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Going on a vacation should be a purely enjoyable experience — but it can be stressful if you didn’t budget properly and figure out mid-trip that you’re spending way more than you had anticipated.

Fortunately, with proper planning, you can avoid this scenario. Here’s every expense you should plan for when going on a vacation.


Flights can take up a big portion of your travel budget, so you may want to book these first to ensure they will fit into your budget with money left over to account for other travel costs. You may be able to find really cheap flights depending on your destination, when you plan to travel and when you book.


Where you stay is always the other big expense when it comes to a vacation. Try to book in advance so you can shop around for hotel deals. You may also choose to stay in a short-term rental property or a hostel if you are traveling on a budget.

Passports and Visas

If you’re traveling internationally, you will need a passport and, depending on the destination, you may also need a visa.

If you are applying for a U.S. passport for the first time, it will cost $110 plus a $35 execution fee. If you are renewing your passport, the cost is also $110 but you do not need to pay an execution fee. If you need to rush your passport order, you will need to pay additional fees.

Make Your Money Work for You

Not every country requires a visa and for those that do, the fees vary widely. For example, a tourist visa to visit Egypt costs $25, while a visa to visit China costs $140. Check with your destination country (or countries) well in advance of your trip to ensure that if you need a visa, you will be able to get one in time for your travels.

Travel Insurance

With so much uncertainty around travel during the pandemic, you may opt to purchase travel insurance. Travel insurance covers a variety of travel-related costs, though what exactly your insurance covers will depend on the policy you purchase. Costs travel insurance may cover include:

  • Trip cancellation
  • Interruption coverage
  • Baggage and personal items
  • Medical expenses
  • Rental car coverage
  • Accidental death

The cost of travel insurance will depend on your destination, the length of the trip, the costs of the travel, the number of travelers, the age of travelers and how comprehensive your coverage is.

Vaccinations and COVID-19 Testing

Some countries are currently only allowing visitors who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Fortunately, this vaccine is free, but other countries may require you to get a vaccine before your trip that comes with an out-of-pocket fee. According to WebMD, you may need to get — or choose to get — a vaccine for these travel-related diseases that are not covered by routine adult vaccinations (prices listed are the costs at the Public Health Institute at Denver Health):

  • Hepatitis A – $210 for two-dose series
  • Hepatitis B – $285 for three-dose series
  • Typhoid and paratyphoid fever – $110
  • Meningococcal disease – $155
  • Yellow Fever – $210
  • Rabies – $1,155 for three-dose series
  • Japanese Encephalitis – $510 for two-dose series
Make Your Money Work for You

In addition to vaccines, you may also need to obtain a negative COVID-19 test prior to entering and/or leaving your destination country, so be prepared to pay for these tests as well.

Clothing, Gear and Toiletries

Depending on what you already have and what you may need, dedicate some of your travel budget to any clothing items, travel gear and toiletries you will need on your trip — but don’t go crazy buying travel gear that really isn’t worth the cost.

Rental Car and/or Local Transportation

Do some research ahead of your trip to find the best way to get around your destination so that you can properly budget for it. Public transportation will almost always be the cheapest option when available.

Local Attractions and Activities

You should get a general sense of the attractions and activities you will want to see and do, and purchase tickets in advance if there’s an option so you know how much of your travel budget this will take up. This may include visits to historical landmarks, museums, art galleries, theme parks, sporting events, concerts or excursions.


Vacation often means dining out for most meals, so be sure to budget more for food than you typically would for time spent at home.

Gifts and Souvenirs

You may want to bring back gifts for your friends and family (or for yourself), so be sure to include some funds for souvenirs in your budget.

Make Your Money Work for You

Walk-Around Money

Finally, have some wiggle room in your budget for “walk-around money” — money you’ll spend on day-to-day expenses that pop up or on an activity that you didn’t originally plan to do.

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