Free Travel Budget Calculator: Can You Afford Your Trip?

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You’re planning a trip! Yay! But you’re also thinking about how you’re going to pay for it. We know that budgeting for travel can be a tricky and stressful process, so we’ve created a Travel Budget Calculator to help you figure out exactly how much you need

As someone who loves a good spreadsheet for just about everything, sometimes we just need a simple visual when it comes to budgeting for travel.

The Vacation Budget Calculator allows you to easily enter the expected costs of your trip, see a breakdown of all the expenses, and set yourself up for success by creating an achievable budget before embarking on your journey.

Aside from this practical vacation calculator, we will also give you tips on how you can save for travel and ways to reduce your travel costs.

ipad on sand at the beach with a travel budget calculator on the screen.

Why You Need a Travel Budget

Let’s cut to the chase – travel can be expensive! Especially if you’re travelling as a family since more people means more expenses.

Scenario 1You set a budget for your trip and you stay mostly within that budget. In fact, you might even come in under since you planned ahead. Go you!

Scenario 2 You didn’t budget. You booked each part of your trip without considering the totals. You end up with some dreadful debt that will take you months or more to pay off. Ick!

Which of these scenarios do you want to be in?

Silly question, right? Of course, you want to be the first person who plans ahead and considers how much you can afford to spend before you book all the things and you manage to plan an epic trip without the stress once you get back home.

How To Set Your Vacation Budget

Alright, you know you need to budget for your travel, but how do you set the right amount?

Take a look at your current financial situation and consider each of the following:

  • Do you have money saved already for your trip?
  • How much time do you have left to boost those savings?
  • How much money can you afford to put aside each week from your household budget?
  • How much are you willing to spend on this trip?

These 4 questions will help you identify your spending power when it comes to booking a vacation.

That last question is important.

Even if you do already have substantial savings set aside, do you want to spend them all on this one trip? Just because the money is there, does not mean you need to spend the whole lot!

Planning your total budget for a trip ahead of time helps you prioritise your spending and ensure that you have plenty of money left over for those inevitable unplanned costs.

Plus you need that total budget figure to use the Travel Budget Calculator below.

Start Your Research

When you’re in the early stages of planning a vacation, doing some initial research can help you prepare for the anticipated costs and get a rough idea of how expensive this particular trip will be.

After all, a one-week stay in Vietnam is drastically less than a one-week stay in Paris.

Not all destinations are created equal, so do your research to get a good feel for the costs associated with your specific trip.

Once you’ve identified how much money you’ll likely need, you can use our Travel Budget Calculator to compare that expected cost to your own personal travel budget.

Start by looking at the basics like transport, accommodation, food and activities, then break each of them down into categories to determine how much you should budget for each one.

We like to use flight aggregators with flight alerts set up to monitor the changing flight times for our planned travel dates. Skyscanner is my favourite option for doing this, but Google Flights is another option.

How To Use The Travel Budget Calculator

The steps for using this travel cost calculator are really simple. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Set Your Budget – Use the questions above to assess your current financial situation and how much you can afford to spend on this trip. Make sure you are realistic with this figure in relation to where you are going, how expensive it is and what you’re hoping to do while there.
  2. Research – Start researching the cost of flights, accommodation and activities in the places you want to visit. Use this as a starting point for your budgeting calculations.
  3. Enter Your Expenses – Now that you know how much each item will likely cost, enter these figures into our Travel Budget Calculator below, including your total budget, number of travellers, number of days and your estimate for flights, transport, tours, food and miscellaneous items.
  4. Click Calculate – This will give you 4 totals below the calculator. Total Expenses calculating each of the costs you inputted, Remaining Budget showing if you are below budget or over budget (it will have a negative sign in front), Cost Per Day, giving you an average daily total cost and Cost Per Day Per Person which divides this daily cost by the number of travellers.
  5. Review The Figures – This stage is important. If you’re coming in way over budget, what can you do to cut your costs? I have some tips for this below. Or can you realistically increase your budget? How can you boost your savings? Again, check my tips below for ideas.
  6. Adjust as Needed – If you need to adjust any of the figures, simply enter a new figure into the calculator and click “Calculate” again to get your revised budget totals until you are happy with your travel budget.

Research Tip: When estimating food and drink, it can be helpful to do some research on the average cost of living for your planned destination/s, including how much an average restaurant meal costs vs grocery items for example. You will also need to consider beverages such as soft drinks, bottled water and adult beverages.

Free Travel Budget Calculator

Now that you know why budgeting is important for travel and how to set a realistic vacation budget, it’s time to use our Travel Budget Calculator to help make your dream trip a reality!

Travel Budget Calculator

Travel Budget Calculator

What Do The Travel Budget Calculator Results Mean?

To make sure you’re getting the most benefit from this free travel calculator, I want to make sure you do understand each of the results. Here are the specifics:

  • Total Expenses – This figure calculates the total from what you input into Flight Costs, Accommodation Costs, Transport Costs, Tour Costs, Food And Drink and Miscellaneous Costs.
  • Remaining Budget – This figure subtracts the Total Expenses from Your Budget. If you have gone over your planned budget, this figure will show up with a minus symbol such as this $-1531.00 (yes, for some reason it’s on the wrong side of the $ sign).
  • Cost Per Day – This figure is calculated by taking your Total Expenses and dividing it by the number of days you plan to travel.
  • Cost Per Day Per Person – This figure divides the Cost Per Day figure by the number of people you are travelling with to show you how much your trip will approximately cost per person, per day of your planned trip.

What To Do If You’re Over Budget? Tips For Reducing Travel Costs

There is nothing more stressful than being over budget before you’ve ever left home!

This instant feeling of dread makes you wonder if your trip is now possible or if you have to make drastic changes, potentially missing out on some bucket list experience you really want to have.

There are almost always ways you can cut down your travel expenses and still have a dream trip!

To help get you started, here are my top tips for reducing travel costs without compromising on experiences:

Consider Different Accommodation

Instead of hotels, look into hostels and vacation rental options. We sometimes stay at family-friendly youth hostels if we want to skip the high hotel expenses.

Check out these Airbnb alternatives for some great options, like Trusted Housesitters as a way to drastically reduce your accommodation costs.

Make Some Quick Cash

Instead of reducing the cost of the trip, why not give your actual savings a boost? Most of us have a lot of unwanted stuff just cluttering up our homes. Sell items on the Facebook marketplace or eBay, or have a garage sale.

Nothing will make you declutter your home faster than a big savings goal!

Free Activities

Look for free attractions in the places you plan to visit or search online for budget-friendly alternatives to the tours you are considering. Travel planning Facebook groups can be great for this if you ask for local opinions of must-see attractions or free activities.

Seek Out Discounts

See if there are any discounts or packages currently on offer. Depending on where you’re going, there can often be package deals that include flights and accommodation for many destinations at a fraction of the cost.

If this doesn’t suit you, keep an eye out for sales from attraction booking sites like Klook where you can save on tour tickets. They even have sales on Disney Park tickets several times a year.

Stay Outside The City

If you’re visiting a popular city, finding accommodation further from the city centre can often mean much cheaper options. There are typically cheaper food choices too.

Just make sure that the extra transport costs don’t outweigh the savings.

Make Your Own Food

Instead of dining out for every meal, buy some groceries from local supermarkets and make your own meals while travelling. This can save you a lot of money if done strategically (especially if there is more than one person travelling).

One of our first stops on every vacation is always to the supermarket. Even having your own breakfast food is a huge saving compared to a cafe breakfast each day.

Mode Of Transport

If you were planning to fly across states, could it instead be viable to turn this into a road trip? It’s not always cheaper but well worth considering if it is an option for your trip.

Combine your transport and accommodation costs by renting a motorhome or budget campervan.

Also, consider if the destination you are going to has budget airlines. These can be great for getting to a faraway location without breaking the bank.

Use Credit Card Rewards

If you have a credit card or rewards card accruing points that can be used for flights or accommodation, you might be able to get a portion of your trip for free!

We love points hacking and have flown from Brisbane to Los Angeles on points. We aren’t doing this to its maximum benefit but do always try and take advantage of supermarket points boosters where possible.

Off-Season

If you were planning to visit during the summer holidays, prices are always going to be higher. See if you have the flexibility to visit the destination during their off-peak seasons instead.

The shoulder seasons are usually cheaper and you can still get some of the weather you hoped for.

Cashback Sites

You can also use cashback sites with boosted cashback offers to save more (although remember this is a delayed saving once you redeem your cashback).

I use CashRewards and ShopBack here in Australia.

Eat Like A Local

Eat street food or casual meals instead of fancy restaurants. Street food and food courts are very budget-friendly and allow you to sample lots of local flavours.

Consider A Cheaper Destination

If your heart is set on a specific location, this is likely not going to work for you, but if you are open to alternatives, why not consider budget destinations for your trip?

Some affordable countries in different regions are:

  • Southeast Asia: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bali
  • Central America: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala
  • Eastern Europe: Czech Republic, Poland, Romania
  • South America: Colombia, Peru, Bolivia

These locations offer great value for budget travellers with costs significantly lower than many of the more popular travel destinations. Your money will go much further than it might if you were visiting the more expensive alternatives.

Using some of these budget tips and planning carefully, you should be able to craft an amazing trip without breaking the bank.

Conclusion: Free Travel Calculator

Budgeting for a trip can be daunting, but with the right tools, some forward planning and a trip budget calculator, you will be well on your to planning your next big adventure! way. By creating a travel budget and using a travelling expenses calculator tool, you’ll be able to plan the trip of your dreams without breaking the bank.

More Planning Resources:

Pinterest Image - plan your vacation free travel budget calculator.