How to Plan a Travel Budget

How to Plan a Travel Budget
While traveling doesn't have to be inordinately expensive, it does require money. A little budgeting beforehand can greatly reduce these inevitable costs. If you've prepared an expenditure list ahead of time, you might be less likely to succumb to the sudden temptation of a roadhouse eatery---and less distressed when the unexpected pulls at the vacation pocketbook.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Consider lodging costs. If you're camping, you might be paying less than if you plan to stay in motels, hotels or lodges---and if you're camping in primitive campgrounds or in a dispersed manner on, say, some Bureau of Land Management land, you might be paying nothing at all.
Step 2
Calculate a rough estimate of your fuel expenses if you're traveling by car. Consider your vehicle's fuel efficiency, the approximate number of miles to be traveled and the present cost of gas. AAA's fuel cost calculator, which is available to members and non-members, is a helpful tool in this regard.
Step 3
Remember the cost of access---entrance fees, permits, passes, visas, etc. Thinking ahead in this regard can save money: For example, if you're planning on visiting a number of U.S. national parks on a given trip, you might consider purchasing an annual pass rather than shelling out money at each gate.
Step 4
Think about food and beverage expenses. Will you be eating at restaurants frequently, or assembling sandwiches from a cooler? Consider, too, that the cost of groceries might be higher in tourism-heavy or isolated regions.
Step 5
Count on contingencies. You can't predict many of the costs of a trip: car trouble, replacing forgotten essentials, medical needs, etc. Keeping a healthy buffer on your budget can head off some of the associated frustration.

Tips & Warnings

Research planned destinations ahead of time to get an idea of entrance costs. The Internet has become immensely convenient in this regard, but old-fashioned telephoning is often just as effective.

Article Written By Ethan Schowalter-Hay

Ethan Schowalter-Hay is a writer and naturalist living in Oregon. He has written for the "Observer," the Bureau of Land Management and various online publishers. He holds a Bachelor of Science in wildlife ecology and a graduate certificate in geographic information systems from the University of Wisconsin.

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