How much money to take for my vacation? It is a question that is difficult to answer without first preparing a travel budget. And there are many factors that will affect how much money to take on a trip such as weather, destination, if what you are looking for is a budget to travel the world, among others that we will see in this guide.

What is a travel budget?

A travel budget is a planning tool used by some travelers to estimate how much money they will need for the trip they intend to take.

Since it is an estimated amount, after your trip you could have spent more or less money.

A good travel budget should never be less than the actual cost of the trip, you can achieve that if you read this article until the end.

Why make a travel budget?

As I mentioned earlier, a travel budget is an important part of any trip planning. However, few people do it.

This is probably because planning a travel budget takes time. The longer your trip, the more time you will need to prepare your budget.

Next you will see the advantages of preparing a travel budget.

  • You can have an idea of ​​the amount of money to save for travel.
  • It can help you save money during your trip.
  • It is the complement of a travel itinerary.

Steps to prepare a travel budget

Since we are planning our expenses, the best thing we can do is do it in an orderly manner by following these steps:

  1. Define the place or places you will visit: It can be one city or several.
  2. Know the dates of your trip: You must have an idea of ​​the number of days you will be in each city.
  3. Estimate the costs: Have an estimate of the expenses that you will make on your trip, in the next section I will explain how to do it.
  4. Double check your travel budget: In case you are forgetting something.

What does a travel budget include?

When we have to prepare our travel budget we must make sure to classify the costs to help us not forget any cost.

Every good travel budget should include: transportation, accommodation, food, activities and others.

Of those 5 types of costs, the ones that are essential are transportation, lodging, and food. While activities and “others” are sometimes not considered within backpacking travel budgets.

If you consider it relevant, you could include other categories of costs, although the 5 that I have mentioned above include practically all the expenses that could be incurred on a trip.

Now let’s see what to include in each type of cost and its importance.

1. Transport budget

In the transport budget we must include all the necessary expenses for:

  • Arrive at the first city that we will visit.
  • Move from one city to another (in case we visit more than one city or country).
  • Move within each city.
  • Return to our home.

A typical mistake is to include only the transportation to get to our city or cities that we want to visit but we forget the transportation expenses that we will make within each city. This includes the cost of transport from the airport to our accommodation, transport passes, taxis, etc.

Regarding the means of transport to reach a certain city, we must consider:

  • Plane: It is the fastest alternative and almost always the most economical way to travel internationally.
  • Train: Although train travel is slower than air travel, it is still an attractive alternative. There are even trains that you can sleep on and save a night in a hotel.
  • Bus: An economical way to travel although on long trips it can be uncomfortable.
  • Car: There are people who like to visit new cities with their own vehicles or rent one when they arrive in the city they are going to visit.
  • Boat: It is the slowest means of transport on the entire list, although traveling by boat is a totally different experience from the previous ones.

The choice of means of transport must be made according to the number of days you have available for your vacation.

In the case of travel within a country, you may believe that the cheapest alternative to travel to another city is using a bus or train, however, I recommend you compare the prices with plane tickets since this third option may be more convenient for you. cheap at times.

2. Accommodation budget

The accommodation budget consists of the amount of money that you are going to spend on accommodation for your trip.

No matter where you travel, in every city you visit you will need a place to stay for the night. Depending on the type of accommodation you choose, the price can vary a lot. For example, staying in a hostel is not the same as looking for a more expensive type of accommodation such as spending the night in a castle.

Whether you are looking for cheap accommodation or staying in luxury hotels, do not forget to include this cost in your travel budget.

On the other hand, if what you are looking for is a free accommodation you could use Couchsurfing. Remember that you will not always be able to spend the night for free with this application, but it can help you to meet other people.

3. Food budget

Another expense that we cannot forget to include in our budget is food, after all, we need to eat in order to live.

You define the number of meals you eat during the day whether it is 3, 5 or even more.

Since we have previously selected the accommodation, we will be able to know if said accommodation has breakfast included (some even include dinner). This way we know if we should include the cost of breakfast in our budget.

The food budget can be more difficult to calculate than the rest of the costs that are in this guide since we are not going to eat the same food every day.

Since one day you can eat in a fancy restaurant while another day you can look for a cheap place to eat, it is best that you have an average amount of food.

It is very likely that this amount varies in each city you visit, so I recommend that you previously investigate the costs of meals in each city.

4. Activity budget

If you have already prepared your travel itinerary, you will already know what activities you are going to do. All you have to do is know how much each activity, excursion and/or tourist attraction that you are going to visit counts.

On some occasions it can be difficult to know some prices, so I recommend that you quote with an online travel agency the cost of the activities that you cannot find the price for.

5. Other expenses to include

Now we must include any other type of expense that we may have within our trip. These expenses do not have their own category because they are usually a small percentage of your travel budget. The most common are:

If you travel abroad, remember to find out if you will need a visa for the countries you will visit. If so, it will also be necessary to know how much said visa costs.

This also includes countries where you can have a stopover (transit visa).

Travel insurance

In some places it is mandatory to travel with international travel insurance, as is the case for people visiting Europe (Schengen area). Even if it is not mandatory, it is recommended that you have travel insurance since if you have an emergency you will be saving a lot of money.

Travel goods

Here we must include all the necessary items to travel. For example: toiletries, appropriate clothing for the place we are going to visit, backpack, etc.

Here you can also include purchases of items that are cheaper in the cities where you will travel than in your city. Of course, if you want to save money, you will only buy what is necessary.


Whether you like it or not, your family, friends and co-workers will be waiting for you to bring souvenirs.

You do not need to invest a lot of money in this. You can buy key rings and problem solved.

Tips for making a travel budget

Finally, now that you have prepared your budget, you can follow these 10 tips that will help you achieve a more accurate budget.

  • Before preparing your travel budget, it is recommended that you have prepared your travel itinerary, that way you will have a clearer idea of ​​how many days you will visit each city.
  • Once you have finalized your travel budget, you may need to update your itinerary according to the amount of money you have.
  • Making your travel budget in Excel is one of the most useful ways since you avoid addition errors that could occur if you make your budget in Word or a sheet of paper.
  • Always add an extra percentage to your budget (10% – 20%) to be able to cover unforeseen events or errors in your budget.
  • Even when your budget seems perfect, I recommend that you always travel with a credit card to use in case of emergency. The credit line must be at least equal to the cost of a return pass to your city.
  • If your trip is short, for example a weekend, it is not necessary to include much detail when preparing your travel budget.
  • Remember that you will save a hotel night if you travel on an overnight train or if you travel by bus during the night.
  • Quote your trip with a travel agency. I know it may seem strange but when you visit extremely touristy places it may be cheaper to hire a tourist package from a travel agency.
  • If after preparing your budget you see that you still do not have enough money, you can change some activities for free activities to reduce your budget.
  • As you gain experience your budgets will be more accurate and easier to perform.
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