With the last of summer just around the corner, it’s hard not think about vacationing. That marine wonder in Philippine beaches or the flowery and chilly mountains of Atok, Benguet. Or better yet, why not go to Europe to satiate your refined palette. There are so many choices with so little time!
But before you book that flight, better check your finances. If you have a mountain of outstanding debt, why travel to Europe and charge everything on your credit card again? Why brag about so much travel destinations when you haven’t paid your personal loans?
Don’t make this mistake. Before you get in trouble in a small claims court, ask yourself, can you afford to travel? If you don’t know the answer, that’s not a good sign.
To help you find the answer, these are tips to make your travel budget for that well-deserved vacation
Define Your Travel Style
Going back to this nagging question: can you afford to travel? It will depend on how you want to travel.
First of all, you should decide your travel style. Is this vacation the luxurious kind where you have a personal butler on speed dial? Or the bootstrapping type where you live off a backpack?
Determining this at first will guide your choices as to accommodations, food, and transportation. Better imagine how you like your travel to be and plan accordingly.
Estimating Your Budget
Now, we get to the hard part. This is where we actually estimate our expenses to be. Remember that this budget is not a set of ironclad rules to follow to the last centavo. A good budget is a flexible one. It is just a guide to keep your expenses in place.
In budgeting for that awesome vacation, we can subdivide the expenses into three categories: Initial Expenses, Daily Expenses, and Special Activities.
Flight and Accommodation: Checking Initial Expenses and Promos
Initial expenses are your expenditures before the trip. This will most likely include your airfare and accommodations. I hope you’ve set your travel style before moving forward as this can determine if you can afford it or not.
With your airfare, the determinant of the cost will most likely be how soon you will be traveling. If you want to book your flights next week, expect to pay full price. For example, a round-trip ticket from the Manila to Tokyo booked on the last minute with a budget airline can cost roughly 20k to 30k PHP ($400 – $600 USD).
But sometimes, you can snatch airfare promos for the same flight for just 8000 PHP ($160). You can even call your credit card company if they have travel promos in exchange for points.
I for one snatched a one-way ticket to Tokyo 10 months in advance for just 800 PHP ($16) via Cebu Pacific Getgo. Booking in advance is not only cheaper, the anticipation for the flight date can provide you more happiness for the amount paid.
Look for Amenities You Actually Need
As to accommodations, it is a great money saver if you book accommodations near the places you want to go. This will save you unnecessary travel expenses and effort. After all, you are vacationing for relaxation, not for a marathon, right?
Next, try to check the amenities YOU NEED. It’s good that they have seven different spas, a fully equipped gym and boxing ring, and an Olympic size swimming pool, but as the amenities pile up, the cost also goes up. Will you actually use it? Just make sure to select the amenities that actually matter for you and your trip.
Select the Type of Accommodation
In looking for the type of dwelling, there are actually options other than hotels. There are budget hostels that can go dirt cheap. There are even home rentals like AirBNB’s.
Just check them all out. If you’re still in the planning stage, it’s not necessarily that you are committed to that specific accommodation you saw already. It’s just a benchmark on how much you should budget for the type of accommodation you’re looking for.
As long as it’s within your means, you can choose another accommodation option after you finished your budgeting.
Basics and Necessities: Budgeting Your Daily Expenses
Afterward, we estimate your daily expenses. This usually includes transportation and food. Pretty much, just the basic necessities.
For the OCD, you don’t need to find the exact restaurants you’ll be eating into. Just look for a benchmark as to how much a meal is worth in the area you’ve chosen. If you’re in the European countries, the prices are comparable for those in Australia or the US. If you are in Southeast Asia, it can go as low as $1-3 USD for a complete restaurant meal.
It’s also good to pick accommodations with free breakfasts. At least you can save one meal cost in your stay. If you know how to cook, renting a room with a functional kitchen can also save you so many dollars. You just need to be creative.
For transportation costs, better check the reviews. Is it best to ride the train or rent a car? Don’t be like us. We recently went to Noto, Japan without planning for the transportation. I mean Japan is known for their efficient (and almost headache-inducing) train stations. Everything is scheduled and readily available in Google maps.
We expected the same only to be surprised. Noto’s Wakura Onsen doesn’t have a single train station to the attractions. There are no records of the scheduled bus rides in Google Maps. And every bus just circles around the area every hour. We should’ve rented a car. It was a nice place. But we wouldn’t be hassled as much if we planned accordingly.
Tours and Attraction: Special Activities and Shopping
Next, you went to a new place to probably see the attractions, go sightseeing and do special activities. While most of a country’s national landmarks are free, some might charge entrance fees. They may also charge certain amounts for island hopping and special activities. Better research the Internet as to how much it can cost.
You also need to control your shopping expenses. Better budget for souvenirs and “pasalubongs” from your trip.
Set up an Emergency Travel Fund
You will never know what will happen in every moment. Preparing an emergency fund can be beneficial for unexpected expenses that you might incur during the trip.
It can be a medical expense or a sudden activity you suddenly want to try. Heck, it can even be a shopping emergency where your special someone suddenly goes out of control.
Better be safe than sorry.
Getting the Money
Now that you arrive at a preliminary budget, can you afford traveling? If you can’t yet, you can try saving up for it. Tweak your daily budget to squeeze in some money for your future travels.
You can also look for part-time jobs to help you fund your travels. Try a remote working side hustle or a business. There is plenty of money to be made as long as you are constantly seeking opportunities.
For what it’s worth, remember that a vacation doesn’t need to be expensive to be fulfilling. It’s the memories you make that counts.
With that, I hope you can afford your dream vacation without jeopardizing your financials for the future. Good luck!