How I Draft the Perfect Travel Budget for Any Country

Learn how to get your finances in order for your next trip.

Once, there was a time when I had no idea how to budget for trips. Back in my early 20s, I would simply go to the TripAdvisor forums to see how much money people would bring to certain countries, and just copy them. Maybe they were families or wealthy entrepreneurs — still, I would only slightly alter this amount and just hope it worked out.

Needless to say, oftentimes it did not work out.

I realized my travel style was unique, I liked different things and my income was so much different than most of these people. That’s when I knew I had to create an accurate savings plan.

While planning my 3-month long honeymoon abroad, I planned. OH BOY, DID I PLAN. To the last detail. And although there were a lot of things we did and did not do on my itinerary, I can safely say that we had enough money to do exactly what we wanted.

This strategy worked out so well, I continued to use this simple method for all of my travels. And I’m about to share my simple method for planning for travel with you.

Create a Spreadsheet

Quite possibly the most obvious step and yet so many travelers skip over this part. Perhaps they don’t have the time or maybe they don’t know how to start. A financial spreadsheet not only helps you plan correctly but gives you a bit more sanity when seeing it laid out in front of you.

You don’t need a fancy template to get started (unless that helps you plan better). The most basic spreadsheet includes the item, the individual cost, quantity-like tickets per person or number of nights at a hotel, and total cost.

Check Out: 15 Easy-to-Use Budget Templates

Know Where to Search for Prices

This is where it can start to get a little tricky. Some of you out there can live off of $5 per day on food whereas others can’t fathom going below $100. Planning your travel style — whether it’s budget-friendly, luxury or somewhere in-between — requires you to know your own travel style and to be very honest with yourself.

Still, you should get a baseline for how much certain items cost. A pint of beer or a taxi cab is going to be a lot more expensive in Iceland than it will be in Thailand. That’s why you should mark down some of your basics. You might not know how many subway rides you’ll taking or just how many beers you’ll throw back, but you can at least guesstimate with the right information.

When trying to figure out local prices, I use the following sites:

  • Nomadic Matt
  • The Savvy Backpacker
  • Budget Your Trip

These websites are fairly up-to-date and include the most basic information. You might not be a backpacker, but as I said, this is a baseline, and these sites provide the bare minimum prices. From there, you can scale accordingly if you feel like upgrading from a Heineken to Veuve.

Related: What $1, $10, $100 Can Buy You Around the World

Don’t Forget the Incidentals

A lot of times, the things that add up the most aren’t those fancy dinners or your hotels. It’s the little things. Like the transportation from the airport to the hotel. Or the water you’ll need to buy that you can’t get from the tap. Consider the following questions and account these moments into your budget:

  • Transportation to literally everywhere you go
  • Basic needs (food, water, medicine, vaccinations, etc.)
  • Tips (tours, cabs, restaurants, etc.)
  • Airport food and drinks
  • WiFi fees
  • Travel insurance

See More: Everyday Vacation Expenses You’re Forgetting About

Factor in Your Budget

Now that you have a baseline for your travels and have an idea for what you want to do, does this seem like a feasible savings plan? Can you save everything you need before your trip abroad, or is it time to cut things?

If you can realistically save for every item on your list, do it! But not if it creates unnecessary stress on you and your loved ones. Maybe subtract that bungee jumping experience or that fancy night out if it means saving $300.

Keep reading to see how one traveler uses travel points to book (almost) free flights.

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