“If traveling was free you would never see me again,” goes a popular saying.
Unfortunately it takes money to travel. And when planning for any trip, whether it is a weekend gateway or a fortnight in a foreign country, you would need to know how much money you would need to spend. Yes, there is the option of going with a travel agency, where you pay a fixed price and most of your trip expenses like traveling, accommodation and food is taken care of, but if you are doing it yourself, there are 2 benefits. First, you have more freedom in terms of routines, places you want to see and what you want to do on your trip. Secondly, since you are doing it yourself you get to do the trip at lower cost. When planning a holiday on your own, you need to start off with an estimate of how much you will be spending. Here is a step by step guide.
- Transport expenses: This will form a major part of your expenses. Calculate how much you will spend going to the destination, returning home and getting around the place of travel. If you are going to multiple destinations, costs of traveling between those will also need to be factored in. Take into account flight and train fares, car rentals, bus fares and any other expenses on transport. When planning a road trip, divide the total distance covered with the average mileage to get an idea of the amount of fuel you will use and budget for that. While it is easy to find airfares and train fares, how much you spend on local transport can be estimated by doing some research online. Remember, that if you are taking a flight, booking your tickets early may save you a lot of money.
- Accommodation expenses: The next major expense head is accomodation. A lot will depend on the kind of hotel you wish to stay in. Estimate how much you will spend per day on accomodation and add up. Now it is easy to check rates of hotels on travel sites and make a booking in advance, so this is a cost you can easily figure out. Look for deals and coupons to get discounts on hotel bookings. This is one area where you can choose to splurge or cut down, if you are short of money, you can book budget accomodation and save on lodging expenses.
- Food expenses: You need to factor in every meal when you are traveling. If you are staying in a place that offers breakfast, you do not need to worry about breakfast costs, so bed and breakfast options are quite handy. A little bit of research will help you calculate how much you will spend on each of your meals. Here too, you can choose to indulge yourself or stick to a budget. While food is an essential part of any holiday, if you are going out on an exclusive food trip and want to try out the different delicacies a place has to offer, brace yourself for food bills which might be on the higher side. Certain hotels offer you access to a kitchen so that you can cook your own meals, in which case your costs may come down slightly if you have the time and the skills to cook your meals yourself.
- Entertainment and activities expenses: This refers to any expenses on all entertainment and activities you plan. If you plan to visit the Disney Land or Universal Studios, you know how much you have to spend on it. Same goes for museums and national parks. Have adventure activities included in your travel plans? Factor in costs you might have to incur for stuff like scuba diving, bungee jumping, paragliding or whatever else you might want to do.
- Gifts and souvenirs expenses: When traveling to a place you would often want to bring back gifts for your friends and family, mostly souvenirs. This might not be a big component of your total cost but it is important to factor it in your budget.
- Emergency expenses: Like any other budget planning, you need to keep a sum for emergencies. This could be a medical bill, money you need to change your tickets or get a new one and so on. To be on the safe side a 10 per cent cushion is recommended so that you are prepared to tackle any unplanned expenses that may come up.
- Shopping expenses: If you are in a Dubai, a Paris or London, you would want some money to shop too. These are not exactly trip expenses, but if you want to pick up an expensive dress or a fancy piece of luggage, you would want to plan for it too. Many of us tend to do such spending through credit cards, but with international charges and all you can run up a very high credit card bill if you have not planned in advance.
- Currency rates: On a foreign holiday, this becomes crucial. A small fall in the rupee against the dollar or the pound can make your foreign trip more expensive. While you cannot guess what the exchange rate for a certain currency will be in the future, you can always work out your budget based on an assumption. Apart from checking the rates online you can approach any bank for help regarding conversion rates.
- Costs before you start: It is important to make a division of the costs that you need to incur before you leave and the ones you need to spend once on the trip. Air and train tickets would be booked in advance. In case of booking hotels you may have paid an upfront cost, but the rest need to be paid. When traveling, especially when traveling abroad, travel insurance is a must. Not only does it protect you from health hazards and lost baggage and so on, it also gives you the peace of mind that is so important.
Planning in advance is always a wise thing. It ensures you have a smooth trip and do not run out of funds when you need it the most. While small trips can be done without much planning, when it is a big trip, budgeting will help you have an estimate of how much your expenses will be and then save for it in advance. In case you are planning a trip next year, you already have an idea how much to save regularly. So, are you planning for your next vacation? Do not forget to do the maths.