So, you’ve arrived home from somewhere fabulous, you’ve been living the dream, you’re euphoric, thrilled to be sharing what you’ve seen and done with friends and family, then your credit card statement arrives; is it really possible to explain in words the sinking feeling when you realise that the holiday that was “cheap” turned out to be anything but?
How do you avoid such a nasty comedown and eating toast every meal for the next 6 months to repay the debt and losing that post holiday glow faster than snapping your fingers? How about some simple budgeting strategies?
In previous blogs I shared how to decide on a travel destination and types of travel. Where do you want to go? What’s your travel style? Independent travel means freedom What’s your travel style? Guided or Escorted Travel What’s your travel style? Cruising can be fabulous for a number of reasons.
This time I’m sharing how I put together a travel budget. I have been told that mine resemble a military operation but there’s a method in my madness, which is:
- I seldom arrive home having overspent
- I often see more than I thought I would for my money, and
- I am generally in “credit” on what I allowed, leaving a handy starting kitty for my next holiday. What more could I want?
This is my checklist: Decide are you travelling independently or going to do a guided tour/cruise? Regardless of your choice most of the costs listed below will be relevant.
Start with an idea of how much your airfares are going to be. Are you able to slash costs by using loyalty points? After sussing out the costs myself, I then touch base with my travel agent. I know that this isn’t that fashionable these days but a good travel agent will know their stuff; they can save you costly mistakes; like what’s included in the fine print (yes, they all have fine print, which can cost you dearly if you don’t understand it, even with travel insurance). They should be able to break down an airfare, point out the pitfalls and find you the best deal. I use Deborah Baptista. email@example.com
If you’re intending to join a guided tour, how much does the basic tour cost for the time of year you want to travel? Does the price fit in with your idea of what you want to pay? If not, are you able to be flexible? Sometimes (not always) a few weeks either side can make a difference to the cost.
If you’ve chosen to join a tour group, do you need to pay a single supplement or are you prepared to share with someone? If you do want a room of your own, then include this figure. Some companies are very user friendly and will include their single supplement price on their websites; others you have to actually request a price. Some tours don’t allow solo travellers to have a room to themselves, regardless if you’re prepared to pay for it or not.
If you’re travelling independently how much do you want to pay for accommodation? What sort of room? Is it refundable if you cancel? Prerequisites for me are accommodation that is refundable and with good close by transport links. My other option is to stay somewhere that is central to the bulk of what I want to see. Personally, if I’m booking my own accommodation I prefer to book through booking.com. I’ve always found them easy to use, they list their booking conditions clearly, much of their accommodation can be cancelled without penalty (check your conditions first before booking) and the photos they have on their site reflect what is available. The reviews and ratings are helpful too, as is the ability to convert the local currency to your currency (remember that this is subject to currency rate fluctuations) so you have an idea what the overall cost will be.
Does the tour price include gratuities; tipping for tour leaders and coach drivers? Depending on the company these can be discretionary but generally they are not and a guide amount will be suggested. Even if you’re not group touring the chances of the expectation of a tip for services rendered will arise in many parts of the world.
Do you want to hire a car? What’s involved in that? Are there special rules?
How much is included in the tour price? Will you have to pay extra for sightseeing? Sometimes on tours, optional excursions can cost half what you’ve paid for your basic tour, particularly of the tour cost is on the low side. Consider if it is possible for you to visit these sights under your own steam during your free time. That said, sometimes its not worth the effort and its easier to take a tour.
How many meals will you need to buy? Food can easily run away with a good portion of your budget. Remember that a meal that’s Euro 50, could cost you anywhere from half as much again or more depending on the exchange rate. If you’ve opted to join a tour then many will include breakfast and a few evening meals, with you providing your own lunch and the top up meals. What to eat and where, can be a bit of a mine field. Due to past experience I avoid “tourist menus” because they don’t always work out cheaper and sometimes the food isn’t as nice as a la carte. Supermarkets, bars, taverns and cafes or eating your main meal at lunch are ways to reduce expense.
Do you need to budget for special equipment or clothes? Hiking boots were my best investment for my Egypt holiday; especially for the Mount Sinai hike and they have travelled the world with me since.
Does the country you are travelling to require visas or particular immunizations? These are some of the small print questions worth asking about.
Travel insurance is something you shouldn’t leave home without, so put that on the list too.
One small point: Credit card transaction fees can quickly eat your money. Its worth asking if there are charges and how much it will be. Sometimes converting from one currency to another attracts a fee too.
Don’t forget your spending money………….
Now go and have some fun exploring this wonderful world of ours.
From a personal point of view because I’m over the top, my spreadsheet also includes my itinerary, contacts for embassies, accommodation and the places I’m visiting. As a frequent solo traveller it reduces the stress for my family.
Disclaimer: As this is a personal view, no recourse held for the information published.
Images: Balloons: http://clipartbarn.com/happy-birthday-clip-art_20828/ Plane: fotalia.com Hotel: https://clipartion.com/free-clipart-17807/ Chef: http://moziru.com/explore/Hotel%20clipart%20chef%20cooking/#go_post_6247_hotel-clipart-chef-cooking Suitcase: http://clipartsign.com/image/39072/ Travel ticket and passport: http://clipartsign.com/716/travel-clip-art/