So here we are. You’ve seen your ex-bestie’s latest trip to Bali or Thailand and you tell yourself you need to get on it and also get those Instagram worthy photos. You have some savings, but is it enough to live your best life? Where do you even start? How much is enough money? You don’t want to be a pauper, but you also don’t want to break the bank. *breath*. I’m the last person to advocate for just a budget for travel because I generally believe you should have a budget for everything!!! Repeat after me: “A life lived within a budget is a happy life…. A life lived within a budget is a happy life…A….”
Ok, you’ve decided on Thailand or Turkey but what does that even mean? Can you go in a month? Can you go in 3 months? 6 months? The only sure-fire way of ensuring this actually does not end up with you paying for a holiday 6 months later with the Instagram posts a long-forgotten memory is by coming up with a budget. Travel expenses can vary greatly depending on how you like to travel. Are you a backpacker, a 5-star hotel girl or do you prefer flying in poor poor standard economy and living it up at the lushest hotel you can find? If you’re like me and like the finer things in life but want to pay the least amount possible for them then you came to the right place. Here are some of my go to tips when planning trips!
Make a budget for your flights and transportation. Depending on where you are going chances are what is most likely to cost you the most is flights. I religiously use https://www.skyscanner.net/ and Google Flights as they tend to give you the most economical options. Don’t forget about transits and everyday budgets, e.g. a small sum for Uber / trains as that ALL adds up over a ten-day holiday
Secondly, book your accommodation! I’m a HUGE Airbnb fan as they give you an array of options in terms of sizes of apartments and houses and various degrees of fanciness (Use this code for USD80 off your first booking, and yes, thank me later). Booking.com is also a good second option as they have everything from hotel rooms to apartments on their site.
Make a budget for food. Food is usually the hardest area for me to estimate what I will spend. But think about where you’re going. Chances are food is cheaper in South Africa than London. But eating out will probably cost you the same in London and Paris. Whilst Asia and Latam will probably be the cheapest… It is hard to get exact numbers for food, so use your best judgement. For travel in Europe, a good estimate per day per person is USD13 for lunch, USD20 for dinner, and a few more dollars for extras like a bottle of water or soda during the day. This does not include alcohol. Also, keep in mind that you can eat for a lot less than that if you don’t eat at expensive touristy places. Touristy places are a trap!!! Stay away if you can. If you want to tighten up on your food budget, look for hotels or guesthouses that include breakfast. Or even half board or full board options. Also consider apartment rentals where you will have access to a kitchen (oh hello there Airbnb). Even if you buy groceries and cook just a few times and always eat breakfast in the apartment, you will save money on your trip budget.
Budget for Activities. Most booking sites (Booking.com and Expedia.com) usually give you some sort of discount for activities if you book your flights or accommodation with them. Here you can find cheaper entrance fees for museums, parks, ruins, or other attractions. Do you plan on doing something more expensive like scuba diving or a hot air balloon ride? Add up these travel costs too, and make sure you know what is and is not included.Do you like to shop when you travel? I do…so you knowwww that needs to be on the budget.
Want to know how to save money when you travel? Seek out less expensive lodgings, less expensive dining options, walk instead of using public transportation, don’t do too much shopping, and don’t spend much on extras like alcohol and snacks. But don’t make yourself miserable to save a few bucks (Also I alwayssssss stop at the duty free of any country I’m entering to buy alcohol in bulk especially if it’s a large group trip as alcohol just tends to be cheaper at duty free and in bulk).
It is also always a good idea to track your spending while you travel, this will help you know how accurately your original budget was and help you not overspend too much. Maybe you underestimated how much you’d spend on food, or you thought you’d spend a lot more on activities. That way you’ll have a better idea of what your spending habits are when you travel. Then you can take this information and use it to budget your trip better next time around. I use Splitwise when I’m traveling in groups and it is amazing! It tracks how much each person has paid for each thing e.g If I pay for groceries, a friend may pay for activities and another friend may pick up the bill for drinks etc. The app then simply does the calculations and works out who owes who so the person who paid for you may not be the person you owe in the end. I recommend it if you’re looking for an easy way to track your travel expenses.
For pre trip travel budgeting I either use my MONZO account (Link here, if you want 10 dollars to start courtesy of me) it has the option of having a savings pot so whenever I have some extra cash I put it in the pot, but you can also make it an automatic monthly transfer). I also use my fixed deposit account from FNB and save per month. I set up an automatic transfer, so I don’t have to think about it each month.
Coming up with a realistic travel budget is an important part of planning your vacation. It lets you know if this is a trip you can afford. Hopefully you will realize that your dream trip is within your reach. But if not, you will know how much you need to save. Nothing is ever quite unattainable, but everything worth having is worth taking your time, planning and budgeting accordingly! Happy planning and happy traveling.
As always, if you want to keep up with my latest travels (and not work life), follow my IG account @beeinrsa as all the cool kids are doing it and well you know you want to be a cool kid