7 Fool-Proof Ways to Stay Within Your Travel Budget

By Nick Wharton on 17 May 2016 0 comments

Once you've planned your big trip, written down all of your expenses, and come up with a travel plan, you may think that it will be easy to stay within your budget. But sometimes you end up going over your planned costs, no matter how prepared you think you are. Here are seven tips to help ensure that you stay under budget and on top of your travel spending.

1. Put Your Daily Budget in Your Wallet

This is a very easy way to make sure that you spend exactly what you were hoping to spend on your trip. Simply calculate a daily budget and only put that amount of money in your wallet each day. When the wallet is empty, your budget for the day is spent.

Of course, some would argue that using cash instead of credit has all sorts of disadvantages. So if you want to use your credit card (the one with no foreign transaction fees and that offers travel rewards so you can go on your next vacation sooner), you can always jot down what you've spent through the day, so you know how much is left in your daily budget.

2. Keep Track of Everything

The best way to stay on top of your spending is to write it all down, but who has a pen, paper, and calculator these days? Luckily, there's an app for that.

The Trail Wallet app (only available for Apple devices) allows you to set a daily budget, add different currencies, and input each purchase you make throughout the day. It saves you the hassle of converting foreign money to your home currency and even puts everything into handy, easy-to-read pie charts so that you can see exactly where your money is spent.

See also: 40 Most Useful Travel Websites That Can Save You a Fortune

3. Cook and Drink In

This can be a huge money saver while on the road, especially when traveling to expensive destinations like Rome and Paris. Of course, I'm not saying you should forgo local food and cook for yourself every day to save a buck, but if you can eat at least one meal in each day, you can save a significant amount of money.

See also: 14 Ways to Cut Food Costs While Traveling

You don't have to rent your own apartment to have your own cooking facilities, either. Many hostels and some guest houses and B&Bs have communal kitchens where you can store your groceries in the fridge and have full use of the stove and dishes.

4. Riding Isn't Always Cheaper Than Flying

People often assume that flying is always the more expensive option, but that's not always the case. Sometimes, especially in places with strong competition for budget airlines like in Europe and Asia, it's much cheaper to fly.

For example, a train from Rome to Paris will cost you at least $136 and take you around 11 hours, while a cheap non-stop flight with Ryanair will only take two hours and won't likely cost you more than $40.

5. Travel a Little Slower

One sure way to blow your budget is to move around too much. When people plan their finances for a holiday, they rarely take into consideration how much buses, taxis, rental cars, and flights will cost.

To cut down on these expenses, consider traveling slower. Stay in a place longer and get to know it better. Rent an apartment for a week and get a discount for a longer stay. Get to know the cheapest restaurants where the locals always eat and try to cook for yourself.

See also: Live Like a Local: How to Tap Into the Local Scene While Traveling

6. Shop Around

Don't just take the first price you're given. This goes for everything while traveling. Take the time to walk around and find cheaper restaurants. Check different bus routes and companies to find better value transport. Check different tour companies for the best deals.

If you're planning to rent a car, shop around to different rental companies. Find the best deal you can, and then go to other companies and see if they can beat the price. You'd be surprised how low these business are willing to drop their prices.

I recently used this tactic in Croatia. At first, the car was going to cost me $25 per day for 12 days, but after shopping around and bargaining with different companies, I got it down to $15. I saved a total of $120 over 12 days just by shopping around.

See also: 10 Things You're Paying Too Much for When You Travel and How to Pay Less

7. Rent a Motorcycle Instead of Doing Tours

This can be a big money saver, especially in Asian countries where it costs less than $5 per day for a motorcycle rental. Instead of taking expensive tours, consider heading into a tourist office or tourism information center and ask them where the best nearby sites are.

They'll often give you a map and circle the highlights of the region. These are likely the same stops that a day tour would take you to, so now all you have to do is rent a motorbike or scooter for the day and visit the sites yourself.

In Asia, you can rent a motorbike for $5 and you'll probably only use $5 worth of gas in a full day of touring. Tours usually cost $40 or more, so the motorbike is a good way to save money and stay in budget. You can even split the motorbike and gas cost with a friend or travel partner.

Don't Be Too Strict

Even budget travelers have to splurge sometimes. These tips will help you stay within your financial plan, but make sure you leave some room for extra activities and must-see side trips. Don't try to scrape by on as little as possible because you may end up missing out on some amazing experiences. Budget smart and travel safe!

How do you stay on budget when you're on the road?

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