How to Budget for Your Next Trip

By Kaitlin Hurtado on September 27, 2017

Traveling in college may seem like a very distant dream: a plane ticket that is the equivalent to your paycheck or a few nights at a hotel being the same price as your weekly groceries haul. Instead of spending hours scrolling through your Twitter or Instagram feed with jealousy brewing over your peers’ travel posts when you’re stuck at home due to a lack of funds, prepare a travel budget with the following tips to fund the trip of your dreams.

Be realistic from the start 

While everyone would love to take the trip of their dreams — blowing off all responsibilities to spend a month in a foreign country — you most likely won’t be able to due to prior responsibilities or your financial situation. First, decide how much you are willing to spend on a trip and if you can realistically have that money by the time of your planned trip.

If you want to have a bigger, more expensive trip, look at how much you make from your job(s) and how long it will take you to work up to that decided budget. If you already know the majority of your paycheck goes to rent with little to no money leftover for free spending, you may want to consider picking up another job or shooting for a trip with a smaller budget that would be easier to make.

Write down a number that makes it easy to break down your budget into transportation, housing, dining, and more during your trip and try to stick to it. When making the overall budget, keep in mind how much income you currently get so that you can realistically plan out how/if you can save up and how long it will take you to save up for the trip.

Break down your budget

Break down the budget you have already decided on into different categories to make planning much easier. Some categories to consider are transportation, lodging, food, and personal spending (souvenirs, shopping).

The amount of money you give to each category is up to you and how much you are willing to spend for one. Maybe you want to travel in comfort and hold back your personal spending during the actual trip, or sacrifice expensive transportation or comfortable lodging in order to be able to spend more on food and activities when you get there.

Figure out what you really value during your planned trip. Do you absolutely need a view of the beach or are you okay with picking a cheaper option where the beach is still minutes away? Do you really need souvenirs for every person in your life instead of forking over money for local activities you won’t be able to experience back home?

Research your trip 

As with most big purchases, the costs of certain things can widely change depending on where you look and when you are looking to purchase them. If you plan on buying the first plane ticket you come across, the chances of you losing out on the money from comparing prices from different travel agencies will be huge. With a search on countless sites that will compare airfare for you, you can easily compare what options are best for your budget.

The same goes for lodging; while you may dream of the shoreside hotel, you can find cheaper options that are minutes away from your ideal situation but still have access to the features of your dream vacation. Plan out the types of activities you want to do during your trip and how much they’ll cost. Going to the beach is free, but going on a guided reef tour won’t be and will be something you’ll want to add to your budget.

Make a plan for saving your money 

When beginning your journey of saving money, figure out how much money you currently have and how much income you get. Once you know the two, plan out how much you can afford to put aside from each paycheck by tracking how you are spending each paycheck. Plan out how much you spend on necessities — rent, groceries, car payments, etc. — and how much you will have left over for each check. From the leftover amount, figure out how much money you can take and put aside from each paycheck.

With that amount, you can give yourself a rough estimate of how many paychecks it will take for you to reach your desired travel budget if you follow the schedule.

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By Kaitlin Hurtado

Uloop Writer
Hello! I'm Kaitlin, a second year Literary Journalism major at UC Irvine. I'm a writer on Uloop's national team and a campus editor for UCI.

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