Nothing is for free and travel is no exception, it can be quite expensive but with sensible forward planning and budgeting it can be a lot less expensive than you think. It is important to put down all costs including guesstimates of side trips, public transport fares etc up front with the initial costing, this initial costing may well determine you need to put off travel to your chosen destination for a year or two.
We do not rely on travel agents at all for our travel as we find we have much better control doing it ourselves, in effect you become the travel agent and given it is for your own travel and spending your own hard earned you will take more care in the planning stages. Travel agents I have used in the past frequently stuff up, you must remember they have a vested interest in getting you to purchase the holidays they get the biggest kick backs from, they have no interest in arranging everything for you.
When we travel in places like Sri Lanka and India we often use local agents for cars and local accommodation, once again we find this a better option than agents at home who often know little about your chosen destination and certainly know little about on costs.
Don’t forget pending money it is a biggy, often underestimated and the one where it can all come unstuck. We allocate a minimum $200-$250/day (Auatraluan dollars) when we travel as purely spending money and believe me it often goes very quickly.
We will cover budgeting to start then move onto what money to take later in this section.
I use Microsoft Excel to create my travel budgets ( any spreadsheet will suffice ) as I find it easy to use with formulas and other functionalities saving a lot of time. I have attached a sample spread sheet at the end of this page for reference. Don’t panic if you can not use a spreadsheet, this can be just as easily done the old way on a sheet of paper with a pen and ruler. The important thing is as noted earlier DON’T LEAVE ANYTHING OUT.
I always split my worksheets for formulating my budget into multiple headings as per the below, I also break it down on a daily basis.
The headings contain the following costs as a minimum, they will of course depend on what you are doing, the point again is not to leave anything out.
- Transport – includes all internal major on ground transport like car hire, boats and trains. This does not include inner city buses, trams, etc as this is captured else where. The major items are separated so evaluation can take place on the most cost effective method of transport can be reviewed.
- Flights – includes all internal flights and flights to and from home. I keep these as separate costs as generally these are paid well in advance, so it is a quick reference of how much they will/ have cost. Worth mentioning here that it is often just a cheap to buy flights dirdct from the airlines as it is from agents. Flight problems is typically where agents have let us down in the past.
- Accommodation – includes all accommodation for the trip per day (night). This isn’t as hard as you may think given the resources available online now for accommodation bookings. I use these sites for planning long before I need to book anything. They can very easily give you a range for various types and quality of accommodation. This can be done a year or two in advance if needed.
- Food Allowance / Other – allowance per day for food. I have this broken up as we both enjoy food so it is important that we will be able to eat how we like. It is also important to note that food is one of the bigger expenses on your trip, so managing this and understanding this means you wont be going hungry and can enjoy yourself. We always try and book accommodation including breakfast unless of course you are spending time in apartments. We find with included breakfast you can often have a filling breakfast that will see you through a snack lunch. If you are doing a lot of walkibg a heavy lunch is not advisable.
- Spending money – includes daily spending on souvenirs, inner-city transport and the alike. This number can vary wildly depending on the reasons behind your travel. if you like to spend money then be realistic and put a larger/ more researched number, or if you can control yourself then this number can be reduced. It is also worth notjng that spenfinb money will be impacted on where you intrnt travellinb to. USA for example will be higher than Thailand, don’t forget too make some allowances for destination.
After the headings above have been established I then use my original budget/ what I want to spend, minus the to and from flights, and then divide it evenly through the above headings. This then can also be done in the reverse to help you realise costs, i.e. cost of accommodation, food, pending money per day and then multiply that by 10 days to realise an initial budget.
Once the above step has been completed it is time to start researching accommodation general living expenses and activities that you may want to complete. This can take a reasonable amount of time depending on the complexity and length of your holiday.
Calculating the cost of accommodation is probably the easiest of the lot and sites like “Booking.com” and “Airbnb” are very useful. When working out costs for food and entertainment, it is best to look through the numerous travel blogs and budgeting web sites to get a general idea. It then helps to go to local restaurant websites of where you are going and review their menus for costs as this would generally be in line with the type of food and restaurant you would generally find yourself in. The same applies for transport, entertainment and souvenirs. Your spreadsheet may then look something like this;