Wednesday, 20 April 2016

How to Budget for Your Trip

I can call myself a frequent traveler, yes I am considering I travel 2 times in a month on the minimum and the most challenging part of my travel- you got it, the budget. It does not matter how many times I travel, making a budget is a challenge, sticking to it is even more challenging. Initially I made a rough budget on my travel, all I would do was ask a friend who has been there on the cost of transport and accommodation, I would do a rough estimate and off I go for my trip. The results were quite stressful, most of the time I ended up busting my budget and to avoid more inconveniences I would cut short my trips or on do away with some of the places I would have loved to visit. My vacations ended in a low tone with wishes of I should have known better, I should have carried more money, I should have done more research on the sites and places to visit, the list was endless. There were just too many ifs. With time and experience I learnt to budget for my trips effectively to make them more enjoyable and comfortable, am going to share with you some of my travel tips on how to come up with an effective budget for your trip.

Do your research
This is a must do for all travelers, it does not matter whether you are paying for your trip or someone else is paying for it. You have to research on your travel destination, know the most interesting sites you would like to visit, how to get there and if you will be required to pay for entrance fees. Find out the safest and convenient mode of transport and how much it will cost to avoid inconveniences as well as extortion from some greedy locals. This will guide you to come up with an effective budget.

Plan
Plan way ahead for your vacation financially. I have made it a rule to set aside some savings every month for my vacations, it saves me the stress of raising money at the last minute or eating into my budget to offset the cost of my trips.The best way to save for your trip is to open a separate account and save for your trip in advance, I call mine “The Entertainment Account”. The good thing about having an account for your travel plans, is that you can comfortably plan a trip within a short notice if need be with little strain to your finances. Make a habit of making monthly saving, I know this is going to be hard at first because you would not know how much is adequate for monthly savings, do not worry about this, with time you will learn from your experiences your average budget and this can guide you on how much you can put away for your trips.

Transport
It always comes first on my budget. Find out the mode of transportation to your destination and how much it will cost. Plan and budget within convenience of your finances and the time duration you would like to spend en route. Do not forget to include the budget for getting around during your vacation, airport or train transfers, and car rentals. I always include travel documents like visas, travel insurance cover policy, medical certificates and passports related costs under this category. Passport related costs may range from getting a new passport to renewal or extensions.

Accommodation
Your budget should include accommodation, research and establish the best mode of accommodation available at your destination and budget accordingly. If possible book well in advance to get the best rates. I highly recommend you to confirm in advance if your accommodation includes or excludes services like laundry, food, transfer to and from the airport or train stations. Establish whether you have full board, half board and if you can make choices between the two for your budget convenience. You will notice that in most cases eating out is cheaper than having your food as part of your accommodation, you will also have a wide variety of meals to choose from unlike the standard buffets offered in most hotels.

Food
The fact that your hotel accommodation is full board does not mean you do not have to budget for food, many of us fall victim of this oversight. Budget for food including water that you may need during your trip i.e before your arrival at your hotel or home on your return. Remember that your full board only covers you within the hotel premises, hence you will have to budget for food expenses you may incur while visiting sites or away from the hotel. Many hotels if not all will specify what full board includes in regard to food, you may be required to carry extra money for drinks or special recipes not inclusive in your full board accommodation

Weather
Oh yes, I budget for the weather, I know you are wondering how on earth do you budget for the weather. This is how, it is going to affect the choice of your travel gear, from your travel bag, clothes, shoes and of course umbrellas. In some destinations, transport cost may change as the weather changes, crazy isn’t it. For instance, in some towns in Kenya, public transport may increase by 5% to 20% due to poor road network that causes traffic Jam and of course more fuel and time consumption. It is a minor detail but worthy noting.

Gifts and Souvenirs
Always budget for gifts and souvenirs, they maybe for friends, family or for your self. There is always something new and nice that you would want to carry back home. It may have a functional value, aesthetic or simply sentimental.

Communication
Have a budget set aside for your communication needs. You may want to keep in touch with your family more often, knowing how much this is going to cost you and having a budget for it will keep your mind at ease away from home. Occasionally you may need to call the hotel where you are staying or the people you are staying with to let them know if you need any help or your expected late arrival. In case you decide to extend your travel plans you may want to communicate with your agent or airline to make the necessary changes. Keeping my self up to date with current news is important, I budget newspapers and browsing expenses under this category.

Clothes and toiletries
Last but not least remember to budget for your clothes and toiletries. Most clothes you may not require to buy but the weather may dictate whether you are going to buy some stuff or not. You can choose to carry your toiletries or buy them at your destination whichever is cheaper and convenient. As usual check out with your airline to confirm what you can carry and the amount  in case these include liquid stuff. 


Useful Tips

  • Plan your budget with international currency convertion in mind.
  • Give yourself an allowance for miscellaneous expenses of about 5%- 25% (this is personal and will vary from one traveler to another and destination
  • Do you ever budget for tipping, well you should, in some destinations tipping is a norm :-) 




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