With so much money involved, creating a good travel budget is essential. There are many things to take into account
1. Know your limits Before you do anything else -- before you even pick the place you want to travel to -- it’s important to know your spending limit. Figure out what you want to spend and then plan your holiday accordingly: not the other way around. Australians owe over $41 billion on credit cards, with each person owing an average of $4252 (source: https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/borrowing-and-credit/credit-cards/credit-card-debt-clock) . If you want to avoiding adding to that total, you should figure out a realistic amount that you can save for your holiday.
2. Have a buffer Once you have the magic number, subtract at least 10% from it to put aside as a buffer. Unexpected expenses can come up and some unplanned costs require you to have some money put aside. Put the money in a place where you can access it if you need it, but it is clearly put aside.
3. Decide on your non-negotiables Now you have your total budget, it’s time to make a few decisions. Consider what are the non-negotiables for your trip. Is it trip duration? Resort facilities? A particular destination or event? Once you have identified the things you won’t compromise on, you can search for the best deal. Maybe you’re set on a trip to Japan but don’t mind which time of year you travel? Maybe you want to lay on a beach in a fancy resort somewhere, but don’t really mind the destination as long as it’s warm. Almost everyone who travels has to make at least some compromises to save money, so figuring out the must-haves helps you then decide where you can make savings.
4. Make a spreadsheet or use an App Ah, the humble spreadsheet: friend of budget planners everywhere. Building a good travel planning spreadsheet can help you make sure you don’t exceed your budget as you try different combinations of flights, hotels, durations and meal allowances. You can event save it to your tablet or phone and track your actual spending against your budget while you’re away. ASIC MoneySmart also have some great tools, including the TrackMySpend app (https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/calculators-and-apps/mobile-apps/trackmyspend), that can help you set your budget and track your spending.
5. Look for bargains Taking time to shop around can save you hundreds of dollars. Even after you’ve decided on a location and time, there can be incredible variations in price. Once you’ve got the specifics locked in, search online for voucher codes, speak to travel agents, and look for other deals: you never know where you might be able to free up a bit of your budget.
6. Remember to factor in travel insurance When you’re planning your expenses, don’t forget to include travel insurance. The biggest travel budget disasters can happen when you don’t have coverage and face massive expenses. That broken leg in the middle of a hike could put you back tens of thousands of dollars once the medivac is factored in. Don’t risk your financial future when you travel: make sure you have appropriate cover, and do your research to make sure you know the best value travel insurance options.