How to Budget for Travel – A Complete Guide

There are many different ways to save for and afford travel. I’ve considered (and tried) many of them; from working a multiple part time jobs to selling all my belongings and everything in between. There’s no denying some methods work better than others and different things work for different people. To cater for this I’ve written a comprehensive guide on how to budget for travel.

Tips to save money for travel

How Much Do You Need to Save?

The first step is an obvious one, regardless it should not to be taken any less seriously. It’s important to come up with a figure of how much money you would need to make your trip a possibility, and then, most importantly, work out if it’s possible at all!

Consider all of the factors below to help you calculate how much you need to save for your holiday.

Where can you go based on your budget?

As a general rule, proximity will be the biggest determining factor. If you’re based in Australia, the most budget friendly option outside of your home country will be somewhere in nearby Asia (Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia are all great options) or the Pacific (Fiji is extremely affordable and close). If you’re located in the USA, a trip to nearby Canada or Mexico is an obvious but excellent option, but you could also consider locations like Hawaii – still within the USA but it feels a world away with the slow-paced island lifestyle – or head south to the Bahamas, Belize, or elsewhere in the Caribbean – the options are endless!

How long can you go for?

I’m going to say something that might sound ridiculous at first, but stick with me here. Going away for a shorter amount of time does not necessarily mean it will be cheaper. Quite often you can spend the same amount on a 2-month holiday as you would on a 2-week holiday. Some readers might think I’m crazy or at the very least terrible at math, but I promise you this has been tried and tested! The main reason for this is that for a longer trip you plan further in advance and in more detail, so you’re bound to find more ways to save cash; you’ll also spend less on a longer trip as you’ll be in long-term travel spending mode, whereas on a 2-week holiday you’re likely to overspend and indulge as you know you only have two weeks to go overboard; finally, if you stay longer in each place and dial back your accommodation a notch, you’ll save a tonne of cash. Long term rentals, where you pay a weekly or monthly rent instead of a per night hotel rate, are also a great option to save money.

What type of trip do you want to take?

Lastly, think about what you want to do overseas. Lying around all day at a beach resort might be your cup of tea, but you’ll also spend a fortune on food and beverages at a nice resort, despite the fact that you’re not doing much. In contrast, being outdoors on day trips and activities will also be expensive, but you’ll be experiencing so much more than you would otherwise do at home. The choice is up to you! Determine the type of trip you’re looking for and use this to help set your daily budget.

Skydiving Vegas

Calculate Your Savings Goal

Flights + Accommodation + Travel Insurance + Daily Spendings = $_____

Once you’ve determined how much money you’ll need, you’ll then be able to come up with a dollar figure for your savings goal.

For safe measure, always round the amount up; it’s better to have too much money and come home with extra than fall short!

Example: My one-week holiday to Bali

Flights: $1,000 (return)

Accommodation: $150 per night = $900

Travel Insurance: N/A (yearly coverage)

Daily Spendings: $50 per day average

Total = $2250

The above is a very comfortable trip that could easily be cut in half! Be sure to look out for flight sales, hotel deals and other ways to cut your expenses.


How Are You Going to Reach Your Goal?

There are many great ways to save money. Just like exercise or trying a new diet, the best way to get there is to head in the right direction and take it slow and steady – not to completely stop living life while you try and save every single penny! So long as you’re putting money away each week, you’re heading in the right direction. Below are some of the most common ways to reach your travel savings goals:

Work + Save (slow and steady)

The most common way to save for a trip is to set a goal, figure out how much you can save per week, add together how many weeks it will take to reach your target, and book your trip for that time. This provides a great incentive to work hard, take on extra shifts or even an extra job, and save more money in a shorter space of time… so you can go travelling sooner!

Taking out a loan 

Some people don’t want to wait it out and choose instead to take out a personal loan to fund their travels, vowing to pay it back as quickly as possible upon return. There’s no shame in needing to take out a personal loan in order to leave sooner or go for longer, however you should always have a game plan for how you’ll pay it back so you don’t get stuck with the post-travel blues for longer!

Work while you travel 

Another great way to fund your travels which has really picked up momentum over the past few years is the work + travel lifestyle. There are many great jobs for people who love to travel… such as blogging!

Read more: 20 great jobs that suit the work and travel lifestyle. 

Brooke in Patagonia

Get to it!

No matter which way you choose to go about saving for your travels, it’s encouraging to know that as with anything in life, if you want it bad enough you can make it happen, one way or another! Remember there are so many ways to save money, not just for travel, and the key thing to note is that it often comes down to sacrifice. Giving up a bad habit, reigning in your spending to stop trying to “keep up with the joneses” or making substitutions are all great ways to save more money in less time.

Adios and safe travels!

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Brooke Saward
Brooke Saward

Brooke Saward founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen, with a particular weakness for French pastries.

Find me on: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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