Why Setting a Trip Budget is Important

Why Setting a Trip Budget is Important

A key aspect for planning a trip is to know what your budget will be. However, setting aside a lump sum of money might not be the best approach.
Usually, I like to figure out my budget based on a few major spending categories while traveling.
  • Transportation – 45%
  • Accommodations – 25%
  • Food & Groceries – 15%
  • Activities – 15%

The majority of your travel expense will occur when you book the ticket to your end destination. You can save some money if you know when, where, and how to book a cheaper flight. However, you’ll most likely be taking public transportation, renting a bicycle, ridesharing on BlaBlaCar, or some other mode of transportation. Most of the cities I’ve been only cost a few dollars for a subway or have everything you need within walking distance of the hostel.

When looking at accommodations, it is a good idea to know what main attractions are in the city you’re visiting. Not only will you start to get a lay of the land, but you’ll know if you will want to pay a few more dollars for a more centrally located AirBnB, hostel, or hotel. You can find places of interest using FourSquare (all attractions), Yelp (for restaurants), TripAdvisor, and more by looking at the maps & locations of the places you want to see. Now you just have to compare your potential accommodations to where you want to go.

Bulgarian Shopska Salad

Bulgarian Shopska Salad

Next comes probably my favorite part of traveling. Whether it was the stuffed pigeon in Egypt, shopska in Bulgaria, or another national dish; just try something new. Even in Kenya, we tried matumbo simply based on the name. When we asked the server what it was, he pointed at his stomach and said cow guts and seemed surprised that we still ordered the dish. Just ask your AirBnB host or the front desk to see where they recommend. Make sure it’s not just a tourist trap of a restaurant by asking them where their favorite restaurant is.

The last major section is for activities. If you’re still in school, be sure to have your student ID with you. I’ve used mine for years and have probably save hundreds of dollars on museums. Other activities can blur the lines of food & groceries, like cooking classes, beer sampling, and even taking your free tour guide out to lunch as a thank-you. Sometimes this category will be higher due to the nature of where you are traveling to. For example, in Kenya, our big activity was a safari and that also included all food, all lodging, and everything else we could have wanted.

I think people sometimes over plan their vacations. Personally, I like to have a general idea of what I want to see in a city. Setting specific days can be too much, especially if items are dependent on the weather.

Planning too much, seems to kill the magic of a place because you research and end up knowing everything you want to do, without giving time to explore the city.

Putting in upfront time to think about how much you are able to spend and how to properly save to get there is just as important as planning out the sites that you want to see. Take a couple hours to think about a rough itinerary to match your spending limits.

Just save a few dollars per day and you can buy an airplane ticket to just about anywhere in the world.


Life-Long Learner, Explorer, & Web Developer. Currently a Software Engineer at Jazz.