The casual vacation mentality makes it easy to forget your spending inhibitions. That’s why it’s more crucial than ever to create and maintain a travel budget for trips, no matter how short they are.
Obviously, you shouldn’t take fun trips that you can’t afford. If you’re heading out for a vacation, you’ve hopefully been saving for some time. You should have a set amount that you can spend outside your regular budget.
Our travel budgets usually include set figures for airline tickets or gas, food, transportation (for cabs, buses, trains, car rental, etc. in the place we’re visiting), hotel, and entertainment.
Due to the hospitality of my sister and her family (thanks Mary!), our travel budget for this trip is very small. We’re staying with them, so we won’t be paying for a hotel. Our food costs will also be much lower than they would be if we were eating out three meals a day. We also won’t need to rent a car. As you can see, this particular trip will be relatively inexpensive aside from the plane tickets, but we still know exactly how much we can spend without going over budget.
I figure out how much I can spend based on what we’ve saved for the trip, but there’s something missing from these numbers, though. What about the money from our regular budget that we won’t be spending since we’ll be away from home?
If you’re leaving for a week, that’s 25% of your monthly budget for a number of expenses that you won’t be spending while you’re away. You won’t be going to the grocery store that week, so that’s a fourth of your monthly grocery budget that you won’t use. If you make sure all your appliances are unplugged (except for the refrigerator, of course) and your air conditioner is off, then you’ll also see a decrease in your electric bill for the month. You can also plan on saving a week’s worth of gas or other transportation costs. Depending on your personal expenses, you may be saving on other things while you’re away from home.
To figure out how much you’re saving on your monthly budget while you’re away, just take a look at your budget. Divide the number of days you’ll be gone by 30. This is the percentage you can subtract from weekly expenses such as food, gas, and entertainment.
I just did the math for us, and almost $100 of our regular budget will be saved during our four-day weekend away from home. That’s a pretty substantial chunk of change in addition to the money we’ve already saved for the trip.
You don’t necessarily have to tack this extra money onto your vacation budget. You might choose to use it as a snowflake to pay down debt or kick start your savings for your next vacation. Regardless of what you choose to do with it, it’s important that you account for it. When money isn’t properly accounted for, it may end up being wasted.
We typically add some, if not all, to our vacation budget. We’ll need food and transportation on vacation, too, so why not put this money toward that? Of course, we’ll spend more than normal for these expenses on the road, which is why it’s so important to have enough vacation money saved to cover these costs.
In this particular case, we’re spending about $100 to board Howie while we’re gone. I like to think our regular budget money is going toward his super-nice kennel since all of our vacation costs are covered. :)