It’s easy to get carried away when traveling, buying souvenirs, eating at restaurants and upgrading your flights and accommodations. But the last thing you want is to face a big bill when you get home.
Here are some tips for budgeting accordingly, no matter what type of vacation you’re planning.
1. Be realistic about what you can afford.
Set expectations for your travel budget that are feasible and attainable. While splurging on travel can be tempting, it will only create financial stress after your bags are unpacked.
2. Start a dedicated travel fund.
It’s easier to save when you have a specific destination and plan in mind. Think about where you want to go, research how much it costs and develop a consistent saving plan well in advance.
3. Create a trip budget.
Use this free web-based Travel Calculator to calculate the cost of gas, lodging, food and more. It’s also available as a free iPhone app on iTunes.
4. Shop around.
Take advantage of the many sites that make it easy to compare fares from a variety of airlines, hotels and car rental companies.
5. Protect yourself.
When ordering tickets, make sure the sites you are using are legitimate. Once on your trip, safeguard your identity by keeping your passport, driver’s license and credit cards in a safe place away from view. Also be sure to make photocopies beforehand in case of theft. If you do become a victim of identity theft, read these tips for restoring your identity.
6. Expect the unexpected.
Keep unknowns, such as baggage fees and transaction fees, in mind when planning your trip, and set aside an extra 10 to 15 percent of your travel budget for surprise costs.
7. Take advantage of technology.
Use apps on your smartphone to digitally book hotels, check in for flights and organize itineraries.
8. Consider alternative accommodations.
Home-sharing services are increasingly popular — and in some cases, they’re cheaper than hotels. Also, hostels offer lower-priced lodging. But make sure you take the right safety precautions by researching the area beforehand and keeping an eye on your belongings.
9. Use cheaper transportation.
Compare the cost of airfare with gas prices — if you can drive to your destination, it might cost less. Also, consider public transportation as a more economical option.
10. Split expenses.
Consider sharing the costs of a vacation house with friends and family to help cut costs.
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