Tips to building the perfect travel budget

The cost of travel is rising in all ways, but if you want to hit the road or take to the skies, use these tips to build the perfect travel budget.
3/28/2010 - Biloxi, MS, U.S.A -- Brad Pujo and Brandie Bankston of Hammond, Louisiana take it easy
3/28/2010 - Biloxi, MS, U.S.A -- Brad Pujo and Brandie Bankston of Hammond, Louisiana take it easy / Sean Gardner, for USA TODAY, USA TODAY

A lot of people want to travel but worry about the amount of money it takes to enjoy traveling. As inflation continues to impact everything, all aspects of travel feel the pressure. Price increases continue for flights, hotels, dining, experiences, etc. If you’re going to plan a trip, building a travel budget is a key step in pulling things off successfully. Follow these three tips to build a strong travel budget.

List out all expected purchases

There are a lot of different ways to spend money while traveling. Before you set foot into the airplane or gas up the car, take some time to list all the items. Of course, there are big expenses like flights, gas, hotels, and food. But don’t forget about the costs associated with activities, travel insurance, and other pieces that can pop up. This is especially important when thinking about accommodations, as hotels often have incidental holds on their credit/debit card, and Airbnb frequently comes with hidden fees like cleaning costs. You may even need to buy specialized items of clothing like bathing suits, hiking shoes, ball gowns, or more.

Take some time early in your planning to list out everything that can come with a dollar sign. And if you aren’t sure, speak to one of your friends that travels frequently who can give you some insight into the costs that you may not think about.

Research. Research. Research.

Research is the long, but fun part of planning a trip. This is when you can sit down and pick out the hotel, activities, restaurants, and more. But as you do so, take the time to look for the best prices that are available. Yes, this can easily get overwhelming as there are hundreds of options for nearly everything available. But take your time. This is your opportunity to plan the perfect trip for you, and since you’re spending your money on it that’s the extra incentive to do so.

There are several resources around to help you research as well. Travel YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are excellent tools to investigate areas, accommodations, and activities from people who are there or have traveled to those locations. Watching these videos goes a long way in giving you hints at what to check out.

When it comes to researching flights, use tools like Google Flights to help you plan. These platforms help you predict flight prices during the year, and give you alerts for the best prices based on your destination. This goes a long way in helping you save money while traveling.

Break down a plan to raise the money for the trip

Now that you have all the details planned out, it’s time to figure out how to raise the money. This is why planning in advance is so important. You’re aware of your income and expenses. Use that timeline to predict when you can make payments on the trip, like purchasing the flights or reserving the hotel. Give yourself the time to raise the money, without having a massive impact on your budget. Don’t go broke while traveling by trying to live outside your means. And as you follow this plan, you can adjust as the need arises.

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