Budgeting While On a Trip
It can be very tricky to predict the daily costs you'll incur while on a trip, and the longer or more extravagant the trip, the trickier it becomes. You can give yourself a head start by booking your travel and accommodation in advance, though this means you'll be less flexible if you were planning on moving around, but if several things are already paid for when you depart you'll have a clearer idea of how much you have left to spend on enjoying yourself.
However, there are always surprises - money can see to evaporate when you're on a trip - so when planning your budget always round up. You'll probably need around one and a half times what you think you'll need.
Before You GoIf you know exactly where you want to be and for how long, you can save money by booking flights, trains and accommodation in advance. If there are long distances to be covered you should consider doing overnight flights or trains - not only do you save on accommodation but you save valuable time in the places you want to visit too, if you can handle sleeping in cramped and uncomfortable conditions.
The earlier you book the better a deal you can usually get with regards to both transport and accommodation. Doing a comparison of prices on various accommodation portals can help you get the best deal possible.
Another way to save money if you're planning to stay in one place for more than a week is to go self catering. You can buy food from shops and supermarkets rather than in cafes and restaurants - and you'll have a little more privacy as an added bonus.
Organising your finances before you leave can save you paying extortionate charges and fees for exchanging money. A prepaid foreign currency cash card from one of the major Bureau de Change is a good idea if available in the currency you require, otherwise travellers' cheques are your best bet. It's also a good idea to have internet banking so that you can keep track of things while you're away.
While You're AwayYou can try to divide your money into the number of days or weeks you have, but you shouldn't be too hard on yourself - you're on holiday remember! Budgeting is not just about self discipline, it's also about spending wisely. Take opportunities when they come along even if it means stretching your finances slightly - you can rough it to make up the difference later on!
If you have credit cards or an overdraft, then you have a safety net in case of emergencies. Using cards for such things as transport and accommodation also helps you to monitor your finances closely and gives you more time to play with. Do be careful at all times however, as identity theft and fraud is a growing problem. Always make sure you know how to contact your bank and card issuer at short notice if any problems should arise - because getting robbed is definitely not conducive to good budgeting!
Eating and drinking off the beaten track will help you avoid the tourist traps and probably discover more about the place and the people. Read up as much as your free time permits you before you go and you'll also find out about cheap deals on public attractions, tours and excursions. Being on the look out for other travellers to share costs with, such as group tours, car hire or even accommodation can also help you cut back on costs provided you feel safe and secure.
You may have to endure some uncomfortable journeys, sleepless nights and poorer quality accommodation than you'd like, but making some small sacrifices in order to stretch your funds when the most appetising experiences come begging is wise spending.