Finally decided to take the plunge and book that vacation, eh? Hold your horses; do not jump in just yet. Make sure you prepare a travel budget to have a clear understanding of how much money you will be burning on your trip.
Make sure you budget your expenses
Compare the costs of traveling to your destination by air, ship, bus, rental car, and train. Air travel is the quickest and the most expensive of the lot. If you only have a short amount of free time, this might be the best option even though it costs more. However, if you are not in a hurry to return back to work, then other options like a ship or train might seem attractive.
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Some will offer good discounts during certain seasons. Watch for them and plan your travel accordingly so that you get the cheapest travel rates. Booking ahead can get you some really decent deals. You should also research the local transportation of the region. Sometimes, renting a car and driving around by yourself will prove to be cheaper than relying on a local bus or rail network. Plus, you will have the freedom to explore the place the way you want.
Food and accommodation
Lodging will be one of the biggest expenses you will incur on the trip. Use online hotel comparison services to find the cheapest options available at your destination. Check the historical traffic data and make sure that the hotel is not located at a place that tends to be affected by traffic a lot. You do not want to be stuck on the road for several hours every day during your trip, right? Another tip: Call the hotel directly and ask for discounts. Some might concede if there aren’t enough rooms occupied.
Since you will be eating out, food costs will also be substantial. If you can find a hotel room with a kitchenette and you are okay with cooking every day, then this will help in reducing food costs. An excellent way to get free accommodation and food is through couchsurfing. Look for people who are willing to host you during your vacation and you will be able to reduce your travel budget significantly.
Set a strict budget for shopping and other activities before you even get on the plane. The temptation to go on a spending spree will be very strong when on vacation. Deciding beforehand how much you can spend will help keep such temptations in check. If you are able to find a couchsurfing host, you will be in a position to raise the shopping budget by a good margin.
Source of funds
Are you funding the travel from your savings or are you taking out a loan? If you are using your savings, see to it that sufficient funds remain in the account after deducting travel expenses. You do not want to deplete the majority of your savings for a few days of fun as you might regret it later on when faced with a financially tough situation. If taking a loan, make sure that the payments do not add any significant burden to your monthly budget.
If you have friends or family members who have already traveled to your dream destination, get some advice from them. Talk about how they budgeted for the trip, the unexpected expenses they had to pay for, and how they saved money on food, transportation, accommodations, and so on. You can also join online travel forums and chat with people who have recently visited there.