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How to budget for a holiday | A couple of travel makers

Our 6-step guide to making your next trip an affordable one.

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A couple on a lawn, looking at a globe and sipping cocktails.

We, like you, aren't travelling at the moment. In fact, the furthest we've gone in the past fortnight has been to the shops and back.

It's true, we may have to hunker down for a bit, but that shouldn't stop you from dreaming about your next holiday – or saving up for it. To get the ball rolling, here are our tips on how to budget for your next trip.

Who are a couple of travel makers?

Stef and D on a boat going parasailing on the Gold Coast.

We're Stef and D, a pair of married jet setters. We've visited over 50 countries in total, and are determined to see even more, all while working full-time and paying off a mortgage. We count our dollars both at home and away and are here to share our tips on how you can travel on a budget.

New blog posts every fortnight on Mondays | Follow us: @acoupleoftravelmakers

1. Calculate the true cost of your trip

It's one of the least thrilling parts of your holiday but it's nonetheless an important one. Once you've decided on where you want to go and how long your holiday will be, it's time to start calculating how much it'll cost.

A website that I highly recommend is Budget Your Trip. It outlines the different costs of travel expenses, including accommodation, food, entertainment, transport, tips and drinks.

All of these numbers are based on other travellers' experiences which makes it a much more realistic number than if you were to look up the general cost of a meal in said destination.

Budget Your Trip also breaks down how much you can expect to spend over a certain period of time for two people.

2. Now add a 10% buffer for incidentals and splurges

On some holidays we come back with money to spare. Others make us cringe at the sight of our bank accounts. That's just how it is.

To help ease any strain on your bank account, after calculating the estimated cost of your trip, add an extra 10% onto it. Then make THAT the amount that you need to budget for.

If you come back with that bonus 10%, you're winning. If you don't, then hopefully that 10% buffer was enough to take care of any unexpected splurges. And regardless, you can use the amount that you over or underspent by as a rough guide for your next holiday.

3. Consider whether you can fund the trip, or whether you may need to make sacrifices

Now that you have a number to work with, see if it's realistic. Do you have that much saved towards your holiday already? Or will you have that amount by the time your holiday rolls around?

Ask these questions together because what you may think is realistic, your partner may not. If, after your chat, you come to the conclusion that you won't have enough funds to meet your holiday's costs, it might be time to make a few sacrifices.

At home, be more conservative with your grocery shopping, rethink that new outfit or spare your time for a side hustle. Here are 50 savings tips ideas to start you off.

If sacrifices at home aren't possible, sacrifices on the holiday might be the answer. Instead of a 5-star hotel, bump yourself down to a 3-star stay. Or establish which tourist attractions you must go to and which you can skip to keep costs down.

Again, consider these sacrifices together, as what you may be willing to forgo your partner may be passionate about.

4. Pre-pay as much as possible

Flights, hotels, tourist attraction passes, tours and SIM cards can all be paid for in advance.

Instead of purchasing these when you arrive, purchase them in advance if you're confident you can commit to them. Doing this allows you to truly start seeing the effect of your holiday on your budget.

If you're unsure whether you can commit to that hotel or that day tour, then look for options that offer free cancellation. Hotels often allow you to cancel for free with a few days' notice. However, attraction passes, day tours and SIM cards often don't.

5. Spreadsheet away

Once you've started making some headway with your trip plans, a great way to keep track of your money is via a spreadsheet.

This doesn't need to be much more than an itemised list of expenses, their actual costs and whether they've been paid yet. This is also a top way to gauge how much actual money you'll need to bring with you.

Major items to include are:

  • Flights
  • Hotels
  • Attractions
  • Tours
  • Car hire and petrol
  • Transport passes
  • Sports and equipment hire
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance

6. Don't forget to add travel insurance

Lastly, don't discount travel insurance. Yes, it's one of those expenses that you might not need to use. However, if you do wind up in an unexpected predicament – whether it's a flight delay or theft – it could save you from forking out much, much more and blowing that beautifully prepared budget of yours.

You can compare travel insurance policies here.


How do you save for your holidays? Let us know in the comments below. And don't forget to check out our next blog post on 13 April.

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