As the idea of traveling becomes more of a reality as things begin to open back up, you may have begun to plan a trip. You might be planning on taking your kids to Disney World for the first time, relaxing on the beaches of Hawaii, traveling abroad, or just visiting family on the cape? No matter how grand or small your trip may be, planning is needed make it a reality.
The first place to always start is with your budget. Knowing how much you have to spend allows you to prioritize the important things. Have you been putting money away and are finally ready to go, or are you going to need a personal loan to cover the expenses and pay it back later? No matter how you finance your trip, it is best to know what you can afford. If you have been saving, your budget will be the amount you have saved up or will save up by the time you leave. If you are using a personal loan, what you can afford monthly for your repayment amount determines what you can borrow. Building a budget is important to ensure you stay on track, and it removes the anxiety of possibly spending too much while enjoying your trip or running out of funds on day two.
Now that you know what you can spend where are you planning on going? Different locations will have different average costs, for example going to New Hampshire for the weekend will not nearly be as expensive as traveling to Aruba for a week. Deciding where you are going can have great impacts on how much you spend.
The first thing you need to consider is getting to the location. If you are going to some place like Australia, flying is your only option. If you are going somewhere locally driving might be your only option. If you can pick between driving, flying or maybe even by ferry it is good to consider your budget and your time. It might be cheaper to drive to California, but if you only have a week of vacation, you might not want to spend six of them driving cross county, or you might.
If you are deciding whether to drive or fly be sure to include all expenses and not just the flight and gas. For a road trip be sure to include the cost of the extra hotel rooms, possible tolls, and parking costs on top of gas. You can determine the estimated fuel cost for your road trip by using an app or website like GasBuddy or MapQuest. When flying you need to consider the cost of the rental car, Ubers, airport parking, checked bags, and the flight. When looking for flights and rental cars make sure to compare prices between companies through either Google Travel or services such as Kayak, Expedia, or any of the other options available.
You can also use those services to help you locate lodging that fits your budget where you are going. If you have a lower budget, you might want to also check out airbnb for alternative options or for larger groups. If you are looking for a unique experience you might want to look into Bed and Breakfasts as well as hotels if your budget can allow.
Going out to eat is almost a staple when on vacation. Looking up the restaurants in the area to estimate meal costs is also a great way to stay on budget. You might even consider making reservations for some of the great finds you make during your research. For low budget options, you can save money for activities by cooking some of your meals if you are staying in a location with a kitchen or kitchenette.
Once you have determined all the base expenses you can now plan out the fun part, activities. Be sure to book high demand activities in advance. You don’t want to travel all the way to New York City to find out the show you were dying to see is sold out, or the restaurant you wanted to eat at can’t seat you. If you have more flexibility in your plans some things might be cheaper last minute, but it is best to check pricing in advance because sometimes they increase the price right before the event. If you are going to national parks, check to see if they have any entry or parking fees. Planning out activities in advance helps to get the most out of your trip, but make sure to leave room incase you hear about an amazing adventure that you can’t learn about online.
Last but not least, make sure to have a little bit of wiggle room. You never know what you might find at your destination. It is always great to have some room for when you find that thing you never knew you needed or to splurge a bit when you want.
Once you have everything planned you sit back and enjoy your trip without worrying about your budget. Happy travels!
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