You cannot stay within your travel budget until you know what it is. Generically deciding to save money on travel is ineffective. The money will simply slip through your fingers without notice, leaving you unable to enjoy the last days of your travel experience. Creating and staying within a travel budget allows you to enjoy your trip without overextending yourself financially.
Create a realistic budget
The first step to staying within your budget is to ensure that your expectations are realistic. All too often, people find that prices are significantly different from what they expected, leaving them without enough money to fully enjoy their trip. There are many online travel budget calculators that can help you create a realistic budget that is easier to stick with.
You can help yourself stay within your travel budget by setting a total spending limit on your trip or by setting a daily limit. Obviously, it is not simply a matter of dividing your total travel fund by the number of days you will be gone. Airfare, airport parking, RV rental fees, or whatever travel method you use will incur some fixed overhead costs. After these expenses are deducted, you can break down the remainder of your budget over the number of days you will be traveling. By giving yourself a daily allowance, you will find it easier to stay within your travel budget.
Discounted airfare, hostels and time shares are just a few of the ways you can cut costs when traveling. Rather than eating out for every meal, head to a grocery store for some local flavor at reduced prices. If you will be renting a car, look for travel dates that reward you with lower rates. This is true for hotels, as well. Also, pack as lightly as you can. Most hotels provide you with the basic necessities for free, so there is no point in packing them. If possible, simply travel with a backpack or small carryon. Just be sure that you don’t join the ranks of thoughtless travelers who cram full-sized suitcases into the overhead bins, making life difficult for everyone else. The earlier you can book any reservations, the more likely you will be to find better deals, so plan accordingly.
Investigate travel trade opportunities & travel organizations
If your reason for travel is to explore a new region, you can investigate volunteer opportunities that provide free room and board in exchange for your contribution of time and effort. You will meet more like-minded individuals and other travels, enriching your experience and your wallet. Organizations such as AAA can provide discounts and useful travel information at a low rate that more than pays for itself in the long run.
Put your credit card to work for you
Many credit cards offer travel miles for each dollar charged to the card. Simply use the credit card for your daily purchases, pay off the balance each month, and then use the miles earned to reduce airfare, car rental, and hotel costs. One young man, Steve Kamb, funded a world tour on credit card miles and $418 cash. If he can do it, so can you!
Staying within your travel budget means setting realistic expectations, creating a usable budget, and cutting costs where you can. If you still can’t control your spending, you may want to try the old fashioned method of putting each day’s spending money in a separate envelope and vowing to only use that money each day.