Planning for a vacation is fun. Budgeting for one isn’t.
Once you have your destination picked out, it’s time to start figuring out how much it’s all going to cost. Using a budget is the easiest way to stay on top of your vacation spending.
You can download this one and personalize it to fit your trip.
Here’s how to use the spreadsheet.
- Enter your estimated vacation budget, or how much you have allocated for the trip.
- Add your fixed expenses (like your hotel stay or flight) and estimate how much you’ll be spending on unfixed expenses (like meals). Don’t forget about extra required costs like vaccinations or international phone service charges.
- Estimate how much you have to spend each day, as you probably won’t be your tracking your purchases in real time. For example, if you have $1,000 budgeted for a four-day vacation, and spend $400 on hotels and flights, you will have $150 each day to spend on unfixed items like food and activities. (The spreadsheet will automatically calculate this for you if you enter the number of days you’re traveling.)
Budgeting tips for vacations
- Take into account any currency exchanges. It may be useful to include in your budgeting spreadsheet how much you have on hand to spend each day in your destination’s currency.
- Watch out for foreign transaction fees. You pay these fees (which run anywhere from 1% to 3%) when you use a credit card overseas. If you don't want to worry about them, you can consider getting a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, or stick to cash. (Here are other fees you should never pay.)
- Consider getting travel insurance. It can financially protect your trip if the unexpected happens. Here’s why you may need it.
How to save up for a vacation
If not planned properly, vacations costs add up. While keeping a budget can help you manage your spending, you should start saving for your trip as soon as possible. Some ways to do this include committing to “no spend” days, selling your unused belongings and opening a high-yield savings account. Read more on how to save for your summer vacation.
Image: Simon Migaj