I’ve put together a list of 16 important expenses to consider in your travel budget for your next trip. The items listed will help you plan your budget easier and prevent any surprise expenses you may not expect. It’s never fun to have additional expenses pop up when you’re on your trip, especially if you didn’t consider them in your travel budget before you left.
Analysis of domestic and international airfare prices shows that flying out on Fridays can be cheaper. Many travelers start their trips on Sundays, so your chances of a lower price are better when departing early in the week instead. Starting your trip on a Friday could be almost 11% cheaper than air travel on Sundays, so book flights online wisely*!
Finding that perfect location with great views can get costly. Airfare and accommodations will be the highest expenses for your trip. You will need to decide what is important to you – can you skip the more expensive hotel that offers you the fancy gym? Perhaps go for a budget hotel that offers a free breakfast instead. These small amenities can make a big impact on what you will be paying.
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3. Hidden hotel and resort fees
Have you ever shown up to a hotel thinking everything is paid for through that reservation you made, only to find out you still owe the hotel money when you arrive? Those are hidden hotel and resort fees that are not listed or not included in your initial reservation.
Hotels tack them onto your room rate which gives you access to on-site facilities and amenities such as pools, gyms, beach chairs, Wi-Fi, and more
In countries like the U.S – tipping is highly encouraged for certain forms of entertainment. For example, dining out. The servers rely on tips as their income and are not paid more than a $3 USD hourly wage. Tipping standard etiquette is 20% in the U.S. If you take an excursion or a tour – tipping your guide is the polite thing to do, as they too rely on tips. If a doorman carries your luggage up to the room, a tip is a courteous gesture. Bring along some cash in local currency and research tipping etiquette where you’re going to ensure you’re not “one of those people.”
5. Visa and Travel Papers/Passports
Some countries require certain vaccines before entry. Before I left for Bolivia I had to get a yellow fever vaccine, and a VISA – costing me an extra $400 USD. Now certain countries require proof of COVID vaccine. So make sure you know what the VISA and vaccine requirements are before you go and add them to your travel budget.
6. Tours & Activities
Do you budget for tours and activities? Are they planned and paid for in advance or will you need to pay when you get there? Sometimes booking your tours in advance can help spread out travel expenses so you aren’t paying for everything all at once. It will also save you from having to pay more while you’re on your trip.
7. Items you forgot to bring or lost on your trip
Unless you are the best packer of all time – (we all are right? 😉) you will probably forget at least one thing. On my last trip, I forgot all my shower stuff. The trip before that – deodorant. One time it was a camera charger. These were not expenses that I had budgeted for and I ended up paying more for them than I would at home.
Ah yes, the second most costly expense when traveling. Plan out your transportation in advance so you have a good idea of what you will be paying. Look up the local gas prices, and taxi rates, and estimate how often you will be moving around/how much it will cost.
9. Rental Cars
Rental cars can be very expensive nowadays with the way gas prices are. Keep in mind that renting from the airport will likely cost more, and there may be more fees. Returning the car early or late could cost you extra. Adding a second driver will also hike up the price. Refueling before returning the car will be cheaper.
Gas nowadays is expensive no matter where you go. Be sure to check local gas prices before your departure to get an estimate of how much you’ll need to budget for. When we were in Iceland the …
gas prices were around 4x what you would pay in the US, and we were driving around the entire country.
In countries like Italy, Japan, Thailand, Spain, and Australia visitors cannot rent a car unless they have an international driving permit. Take this into consideration when you are planning your trip to these countries because you’ll need to find an alternative way to get around. Such as by taxi, ride share, or maybe even a tuk-tuk!
12. Pre-Departure Expenses
Think about the items you need to purchase before leaving for your trip. Travel toiletries, proper clothing/shoes, luggage, camera gear, all these little things add up quickly. Sometimes I need to go shopping before a trip to get unique things. Like snow goggles and snow pants when I went snowboarding in Big Sky Montana.
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13. Vaccinations and medications
I mentioned the COVID vaccine earlier, but what about country-specific vaccines? Before we could fly into Bolivia we needed to get a Yellow Fever vaccine. While I was there the doctor recommended I also get hepatitis boosters to avoid getting sick.
There was also that time in Thailand when my friend got bit by a dog and had to get the rabies vaccine… then carry this box onto a domestic flight. THEY LET HER. Big old cooler box labeled RABIES VACCINE. THEY LET HER. Never in a million years would that happen in the US. People around the flight just looked at us with these big eyes like WTF is that?
I have daily medications that I take too. So it’s important I plan ahead to make sure I have enough to get me through my trip and a few days after. Check local and federal prescription drug laws where you’re visiting to confirm you are in compliance without compromising your health.
14. Food & Drink
How much you budget for food & drink completely depends on what type of dining you expect, and where you are going. In some places like South America, and Southeast Asia you could spend less than $10 USD a day on local restaurants and street food. In those same areas, you could just as easily spend $50 USD on one lavish meal. Drinking the local brew instead of well-known labels will help save you money as well.
Everyone is different when it comes to souvenir choices. So you will want to budget for what you plan on getting/how much you want to spend. I usually keep it simple and get a magnet for our fridge. But if we’re traveling internationally I will get a t-shirt or something rare that can only be found there. Like the art piece we bought in Peru and the hand-woven llama gloves we got in Bolivia.
16. Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is one of those things that you hate to buy but wish you did. I prefer to insure my trips with AARDY Travel Insurance before any international adventures. Another good choice is Allianz. The insurance covers me for medical emergencies, flight interruptions, and lost or delayed luggage. Plus it just puts my mind at ease. Because if something were to happen, I know I’ll be covered. Travel after all – is an investment, and can cost thousands of dollars, why wouldn’t you want to protect it?
Download my “Before You Go” Checklist to help you get your house and affairs in order before you depart.