Each holiday carries the risk of overspending our money, so we should pay a closer look to our holiday plan and make sure that we prepare a good budget to get the most out of our holiday. Here’s a few tips that can help.
Set a Clear Goal
The first step in planning our holiday is to create a clear goal on what we would like to get out of our holiday. Our holiday goals should be concise, clear, and result oriented. A goal should include a verb that contains all your vacation choices.
Ask ourselves the following questions to understand what do we really need and hoping to get from our holiday:
1. Where do we want to go ?
2. What is the best way to get to our destination ?
3. What shall we do once we get there ?
4. How many people are we going to bring with us for the holiday ?
5. How long are we going to stay there ?
A clear goal sound some thing like “I am going to Hong Kong to visit a friend and spend 2 weeks in China to visit some of its famous history heritage”.
Prepare Your Travel Itinerary
After we have set a clear and realistic goal it is time to gather some information to get a better picture on how much money should we set aside for our trip.
1. Travel Documents. We need to have a valid travel documents and the necessary visa to get into our destination country if we need one. The destination country embassy or consular usually provide a good guideline on the required travel documents. Take note of any fees that we have to pay to the embassy for getting a visa to enter our destination.
2. How to get to our destination. We need to consider the most effective means of getting to our destination. We have the option to go by land, sea, or air. Each one of them has their own benefit, going by the air route usually takes us faster to our destination. Taking a land transport gives us the opportunity to enjoy the scenery on the road. Going by sea can be exciting for some of us who enjoy the open sea. Some of these options may be cheaper or more expensive, take note of the price for each mode of transport to get a better understanding on the total cost of the trip.
3. Accommodation. There are different type of accommodation to choose for our holiday. Budget conscious traveller may like to consider backpackers or a motel, while the higher end travellers may want to spend their time in a luxurious hotel. Our choice depends on our preferences on the kind of service and convenience that we expect from our accommodation provider. Motel or Backpacker may be cheaper than a hotel, but they may not have the services and facilities that a hotel gives.
4. Daily Expenses. Travelling oversea means that we need to spend some money on our daily expenses oversea. Our vacation country may have different food prices, laundry, gas, bus tickets, etc. We need to have a rough idea on how much should we set aside to cover these necessary daily expenditure.
Smarter travel.com is one of the website that I frequently use to look for good deals on flights. Smarter Travel has an impressive price comparison engine that search for the best prices from various online sources that often give me the best airline price, hotel, cars. and even vacation packages for my trip.
After we gather a good amount of information on the prices, we should be able to come up with a simple budgeting spreadsheet to give estimates on the total cost of our trip.
Simple Spreadsheet for Your Trip Budget
Microsoft provide a free excel template spreadsheet for our budgeting purposes. The template list out common expenditure in a travel such as airfare, hotel, food, car rental, gas, entertainment, gifts. I find that this template is very useful to calculate the total cost of our trip and whether our plan exceed our budget. The budgeting spreadsheet will gives us a warning if our trip expenses cost more than our budget.
Keep this spreadsheet accessible at all time during your travel so that you can monitor your expenditure on your travel.
Know How to Spend Your Money
An important part of travelling is to know the best way to spend our money during our trip.
Choose the Right Season to travel.
Airfare or accommodation fares are often affected by season. Christmas break or summer are usually the high season for people to travel. Finding a cheap seat on a flight or a good room in a hotel will be tough during the high seasons. Planning a trip during the low season gives us more option to choose low cost flight or hotel.
Choose the Best Way to Exchange Currency
Spending time oversea sometime means that we need to spend the local currency. ATM, Credit Cards, Debit Cards, Money Changers are the common instrument for us to gain access to the local currency. Each one of them works slight differently and carefully evaluating each one’s hidden cost can save us money in the process.
Be mindful of the hidden administration fee that comes with your ATM, Credit Card, or Money Changer. Consult with your bank on how much they charge for foreign transaction. Some banks charges a certain amount of money every time you withdraw from your ATM. Withdrawing in a large amount instead of small amount might save you a lot money. Some banks charge their customer currency conversion charge when they use their credit card.
Most carrier charges an additional fee if our luggage is over their weight limit. Extra luggages means extra space to store and extra effort to carry them around. Look at the content of your luggage and rethink whether you really need them at your destination. Your vintage jeans may look cool but they add weight to your luggage. Towel is handy to have but most hotels provide towel in their bath room. Cotton underwear are comfortable, but paper underwear is lighter and you can just throw them away after you wear them. Jackets are heavy and consume space in your luggage. You may not need jackets if you’re travelling across places with different climate. You may want to wear your jacket in the cold areas, but you may not need them to enjoy a a sunny beach in a tropical country. It might be cheaper just to rent a jacket for the ski trip or buy them at the local shop compare to bring them in your luggage.
Keeping Your Money to Your Budget
When we arrive at the actual location there is always temptation to spend our money in things that we actually may not need. There are some ways to curb these temptations.
Restricting access to your money is one of the most effective way to avoid spending money. Transfer some of the money in checking account to different account to prevent you from spending everything in your checking account.
It is very easy to swipe your credit card at the counter because you don’t actually see the money physically flowing out of your wallet. But do remember every dollar you charge on your credit card will bear an interest that will compound unless you pay them off quickly. Stop swiping those credit cards unless in emergencies. You may want to take advantage of point rewards programs, but bear in mind you need to be able to pay the credit card off every month and avoid getting stung by the interest rate fees.
Why are You Buying It ? Sometime we buy things because we need it. We buy a computer because we need to do our work. Some time we buy things only simply because we want it. Choose the items that you buy carefully, think about whether the purchase really going to benefit you in the long run or the purchase just simply to get an instant gratification.
Travel with budget conscious people
The people that travel with us affect how we spend our money. Travelling with budget conscious people help us make better decision where to spend our money. They can help us to evaluate whether we are making the right decisions when we make our purchases during our trip.