I’m not the most budget-conscious, generally speaking. When I travel, I tend to prioritize where I want to go rather than how I’ll manage my money in order to get there. But, my kind of travel does require a certain budget. And, unless you’re banking on a trust fund (take me with you?), you actually have to keep an eye on your spending to avoid coming home to bills that you’re not financially prepared to handle.
Here are 4 important steps to take into account in preparation for your travels:
1. FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU NEED
Once you’ve picked the destination where you’ll get the most bang for your travel buck — let’s say Barcelona — , you’ll have to take an honest inventory of what you’ll need. Start your budget with the biggest expenses first – usually this will be your flights, but accommodation also adds up. So you’re probably going to include the following:
- Food (mainly restaurants)
- Activities (museum entry fees, tours, equipment rentals…)
- Shopping and gifts
2. FACE THE NUMBERS
Once you’ve worked out how much you need, then you’ve got a figure you can save towards.
MoneyStrands’ Saving Goals feature will help you set — and stick to — realistic travel budgets. And though the app obviously doesn’t do the hardest part (you still have to save the money), it does track how far or close you are to achieving your dream vacation.
Here’s how set a Saving Goal for your vacation:
Menu → Planning → Saving Goals Tab → Plus Sign (+)
3. BE TRUE TO YOURSELF
Have you ever heard this quote?
“Motivation gets you started, habit gets you going.”
It’s pretty self-explanatory: if you stay on track with saving the specified amount each month, MoneyStrands highlights (and adjusts) the projected date of when you can afford to take the trip. Save more, and you could afford to take your trip earlier.
But, if you slack on your monthly savings, the date will have to be pushed back — a reality check. Be consistent and disciplined about the amount of money you’re saving each month. After all, you’re saving for experiences that will make you happier.
4. EXCHANGE YOUR CURRENCY
When traveling abroad, it’s really important to check the currency exchange to make better predictions of what things will cost out there. Also, do some online research to see how far your dollar will stretch on daily items such as coffee, taxi rides, and a cold beer or two.
Whether you decide to exchange your money at the airport, at a bank or any other place, be sure to do your research beforehand to guarantee you get the best rate for your bucks.
DO YOU HAVE A NO-FAIL BUDGET?
Tell us how you do it! Do you have a written plan, or something you update regularly on the MoneyStrands app? Do you work with a financial professional? Share your tips so we can spread the wealth!