Summer has officially arrived! If you’re one of the millions of Americans planning to take a vacation this season, it’s time to start budgeting for it. When budgeting for a vacation, it can be tempting to only focus on big expenses like hotel costs and flights, but forgetting these four smaller expenses could ruin your dream trip. So, keep your vacation at max relaxation by making sure if you’ve already planned for these four expenses.
Regardless of where you are going, you’ll need to budget for transportation expenses.
If you’re staying local, include a budget for gas and parking, or cab and train fare. Be realistic about what you’ll do. While you can save money by walking, biking or taking public transportation, if you know you’ll be Ubering or driving around town, make sure you include a higher expense estimate in your budget.
If you’re planning to drive a distance, don’t forget to factor in the cost of gasoline. You can get a good estimate of what you’ll spend using your anticipated mileage, your car’s typical miles per gallon, and the average cost of a gallon of gas. When in doubt, round up estimated mileage and the cost of gas, and round down miles per gallon. It is always better to have saved too much saved than too little.
If you’re planning to fly somewhere, don’t forget to factor in the cost of transportation to and from the airport. This can sometimes be the most expensive part of your trip. You’ll need to decide if you’re renting a car or if you’ll be depending on public transportation or cabs. Have a plan before you land! It can be overwhelming to navigate local transportation options when you arrive, which can cause you to choose a more expensive option without considering the alternatives.
2. Food and Drink
Even though food and drink costs are a typical daily expenses, many people forget to factor them in to their vacation budgets. While you’re on your trip, eating will likely be one of your biggest expenses. Take time before you travel to determine a realistic estimate of what you’ll spend. Check out some local menus to get a better idea of what a typical meal costs, then budget accordingly. The cost for beverages also vary a lot by location, so if you plan to drink, be sure to budget for that as well.
If you’re planning to stay in a place with a fridge or kitchen, you can also save money by cooking at least some of your meals at home. Buying staples at the grocery store and eating in can drastically reduce your food costs.
If you’re someone who loves to eat out while travelling, that’s great too. Just remember to plan accordingly, so you’re not shocked by what you spend.
3. Airline Fees
While it can be tempting to simply buy the cheapest flight option available, many airlines today have hidden fees that mask the true cost of your ticket. Sometimes that amazing discount flight will actually be much more expensive than you expect.
If you plan to check a bag, factor that in to the total cost of your ticket and pay in advance if possible. Some airlines charge up to $30 for a single checked bag and even more fees if you wait to pay until you arrive at the airport. Many discount airlines even charge for a carryon bag, so be sure to check the airline’s policies before booking.
Some airlines also charge fees for reserved seats, so if having a window seat or extra legroom is important to you, be sure to include that cost.
Even if every moment of your trip is preplanned, it’s likely that you’ll have unexpected extra expenses. When you find the perfect souvenir or have the opportunity to go on a special excursion, you don’t want to be stressed about the cost. Plan to have some additional funds in your vacation budget for these extras to make your trip as smooth as possible. While these extras can be fun, prioritize what matters to you and spend accordingly. Not every extra is worth the price.
By making sure you’ve included these four expenses in your vacation budget, you’ll be able to enjoy your trip and not be surprised by big bills later on. Planning the financials up front will let you enjoy a truly relaxing and worry-free time.