Thursday, September 10, 2009

Budget for Your Vacation--Pt. 1

How do you budget for your vacation? Do you have a savings account specifically for traveling? Do you decide where you'd like to travel to, try to decide what it might cost and save specifically for that destination?

It doesn't really matter which you method you prefer, the important thing is that you decide where you'd like to go and either make sure you have enough money or start saving and be ready when the right fare pops up.


I am sharing with you several links to some of the best budget travel expense online tools (with the exception of one that is an excel spreadsheet) that are geared toward the budget traveler. Most of them calculate basic costs that you have probably already considered but some of them have some line items that you might not have thought of as vacation expenses but that will impact the amount of money you will actually have on hand to spend while you're travelling.

The first budget calculator I'm linking to is from the Independent Traveler website. This site is a great source for independent travelers and it's loaded with information and several useful online tools the any traveler can utilize (see GlobeDiva travels packing hints for a link to independent traveler's interactive packing list). Independent Traveler's travel budget calculator is a basic travel budgeting tool that allows you to calculate the overall potential cost of your trip that you can save, print, or email to your travel buddies. The nice thing about this particular budget calculator is that there are several empty boxes that allow you to put in personalized costs that make your budget unique.

The next budget calculator I like is from Solotravel.org. This website is geared to solo travelers of all ages. It offers tour providers and trips that are solo friendly and their travel budget calculator allows you to estimate a "per day" amount you might need to budget for a specific country. The link to that calculator is here. Begin by entering the country to which you wish to travel. Continue by choosing your preferences for eating, accommodations, alcohol intake, internet usage, extra costs and the number days you will be staying. You are given a total with a rough idea of amount of money you will need per day in the currency related to the country to which you will be travelling. A link for a currency converter is also available.

An easy to use travel expense calculator comes from easy-budget-planner.com. This is NOT a travel website but a website that offers everyone lots of FREE budget planners. The travel expense calculator allows you to calculate whether you have enough money in your savings account for your trip. If you see that your proposed expenses put you in the negative overall, you know it's time to change your travel plans by making some cuts here and there or time to add more money to your savings account.

If you're dream vacation is a cruise, here's an excellent little travel budget planner that focuses on cruises and expenses aligned with them. Get Sunny is the website and although some of the links on the site come back with errors (as of this writing) the link for the budget planner works just fine. This great little calculator has categories for every possible expense related to cruises you can think of and then some! Once you've completed the calculator, you get back a detailed budget with break-downs for cruising, air travel, transportation, accommodations, sightseeing, and other expenses. Once you've got your total, you can even email it to yourself.

Here is an excel spreadsheet from the website Round The World Trip that helps you budget for an "around the world" trip! After you click on the link you will be taken to the web page that has the actual link for the spreadsheet. Once the spreadsheet opens, you will find instructions on how to use it to help you budget for your trip. This spreadsheet focuses more on countries in the Eastern European area, North and South America as well as Africa, but there is virtually no focus on Western Europe. The instructions ask that you not edit the cells so for me, this spreadsheet serves to give me some ideas on how to work make my own spreadsheet that could help me budget for a really long, round the world type trip; however, I'm not really inclined towards using spreadsheets and I have found the other budget calculators mentioned throughout this post serve my purposes just as well, if not better. I'm including this spreadsheet link for those of you that prefer to budget in this manner.

The final website and budget calculator I'm including is not quite like the calculators I presented above. This particular calculator allows you to figure out how much money you waste on little daily habits (like that Starbucks latte you stop for every morning) and how much money you would save if you just cut back, or eliminated, one or two or several, of these habits. Once the amount of savings is calculated, you can click on a link that shows you where you could afford to travel to with the extra money you saved over the year. This calculator is on an awesome website called TravelMuse and it's a bit similar to Tripit in that it allows you to plan your trip, search the web and save information you're interested in, and share with your friends, all in one place. The savings calculator I'm referring to is called Yaycations and it's really eye-opening to see how much you could save for a trip just by cutting back on a few luxuries. You can also utilize TravelMuse to book travel if you're so inclined. I may never book travel from here but I will definitely use it as a resource to compare costs with other search vehicles. The site is very intuitive and easy to use. This is a fun site to play around on and dream of far away places.

Next, look for my own personal techniques that helped me save enough money to make it to Italy in the upcoming post!

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