Going for a week or a year? You’ll need to know how to plan your travel budget to get the most out of your trip.
Often cited as the biggest concern when people are planning a trip, planning your travel budget before you go is the best way to make sure you don’t end up skint on the road. Especially if you’re on a longer trip, funds can be stretched the further you go.
Even on a week away, some places can turn out more expensive than you were thinking.
If you know your travel budget before you go you’ll be able to plan your style of travel and when and where you can splash out. You can also do some research on your destination before you go.
A good travel budget estimator is to add you accommodation + local travel + food costs for each day. This will be your absolute basic.
How To Plan Your Travel Budget
First of all it helps to know the vague costs where you’re heading. There are some excellent sites like Numbeo, Budget Your Trip and Expatistan which, between them, have prices for pretty much everywhere. Knowing the basics will help you plan your travel budget.
If you’re going for a week or so you’ll probably know what your accommodation costs are. But if you’re planning on an extended trip with several stops then it’ll help to know your hotel spend (even roughly) before you go.
For example in South East Asia you’ll be expecting to find hostel rooms for around US$2-3 per night and basic private rooms for between US$5-10. This of course varies massively between countries but as an idea, this is a good basis to work on.
In Europe you’re going to be budgeting more like US$15-25 for a hostel room and upwards of US$30 for a private room.
We’ve said it before, but moving costs money. If you’re on a budget try and keep costs down by sticking to one area for longer rather than trying to cram in too much. It also means you get a genuinely relaxing holiday too.
Transport costs vary massively but assume that taxis are the most expensive form of travel anywhere you go. Sure, some places you’ll be able to splurge on taxi fares (India, South East Asia and North Africa for example are all cheap for taxis) but if you’re in Europe, North America or Australia/New Zealand you’ll soon break the bank if you flag a cab on the regular.
Using public transport may well be a necessity in bigger cities, so take a look at the average travel costs where you’re headed on the sites above. If you can explore by foot or hire a bike then those will keep the costs down.
See PriceofTravel.com for some average prices in major cities.
As a general rule, budget around US$30-40 to move from place to place in Europe and in Asia you can probably get away with US$10-20 to use long distance buses and trains.
Budget airlines often offer great savings if you book in advance and sometimes can even work out cheaper than bus or rail (especially in Europe). See our flight widget below.
Food and Drink
One of the great joys of travel is the local food and drink and you won’t want to hold back too much on this. Of course some places are cheaper than others.
For example France will set you back around US$20-30 per day if you eat a meal in a restaurant and have a few patisseries in cafes. India will barely break the US$5-8 a day for 2 sit down meals and a street snack.
You can save money by doing some self catering, especially in more expensive destinations. In Australia for example it’s a given that backpackers will use hostel catering facilities due to the cost of eating out.
Where the costs will really add up is if you start drinking alcohol.
Some places are dirt cheap for booze, especially South America and Eastern Europe. However drinking in Western Europe, North America, Australia/New Zealand and even parts of Asia can really sap your funds.
If you like to party then bear this in mind. A night of drinking in Thailand, Vietnam or Cambodia will probably set you back around US$10-15 (2 beers/wines and a cocktail in a cheap bar). The same drinks in Medellin will be around US$5-8, in Barcelona about US$20, in Sydney it’ll be closer to US$35.
Planning on partying a lot? Check out Pintprice for average drinks prices globally.
Experiences and Sightseeing
Why fly halfway around the world if you can’t see the sights? You’re going to need to pay for a few entry tickets or ‘adventure’ experiences so make sure you’ve accounted for this.
Some places are very affordable. For example the complex of the Pyramids at Giza are around EGP80 (US$4.50) with entry to the Grand Pyramid an additional EGP200 (US$11.50).
But if you’re heading to Dubai and planning a trip up the Burj Khalifa, be warned it’s pretty expensive at around AED350 (US$95) off peak or AED500 (US$137) at peak hours. If you go for the lower platform it’s AED125 (US$35) and AED200 (US$55) respectively.
Most temple complexes in Asia are pretty cheap, barely breaking the US$5 barrier. There are exceptions such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia which is between US$35-75 for a 1 or 7 day ticket.
If you’re headed to New Zealand you’ll probably be expecting to do something like a bungee jump which will set you back between NZ$150-200 (US$110-145).
White water rafting in South Africa will set you back around ZAR250 (US$20) and a safari in Kenya will be around US$100-150 if you go on a group with other people.
The best thing is to take your budget and divide it by the amount of days you are travelling for. You’ll then know what your maximum spend should be per day, if you save one day then perhaps you can splash the next.
DAYS / MONEY = BUDGET
If you’re planning on saving to travel then work out how long you want to go for and how much you think it will cost.
DAYS x BUDGET = HOW MUCH TO SAVE
Even if you have saved an amount already, you may find you will be able to work with that. Say you have US$500 for a three week trip to Central America, you’ll easily be able to make that stretch by avoiding too much intercity travel, staying in hostels and eating cheaper food and not drinking/partying too much.
It can be tricky knowing your exact travel budget estimate but even a vague figure will help.
Choosing A Cheap Place To Travel
If you’re going travelling on a budget then it pays to choose somewhere cheap to be. We’ve written about some of the cheapest places to head to so take a look at our suggestions for some inspiration.
We’ve also written a solid guide to finding cheap deals before you go travelling, so check that out if you’re planning a trip.
If you’re inspired then take a look at some flight prices on our handy flight booking widget!
If you have your own suggestions about how to budget for travel or how to save money when sightseeing then comment below. Don’t forget to share!