Travel Budgeting Tips & Templates

Get the most out of your trip with the ultimate travel budgeting guide! Read more for exclusive tips, templates, and the best ways to save abroad.

Traveling is a dream for most people, but too often it feels out of reach. However, with the right amount of research and preparation, you can make any travel dream a reality with effective travel budgeting.

Explore my best tips to get the most out of your money while abroad, plan effectively for the costs you’ll likely run into, and some tricks to cut unnecessary costs! No matter what kind of traveler you are, you can go on the trip of your dreams with a few short steps that break it all down.

Map for travel planning with a notebook and pen

Table of Contents

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Part 1: Know Your Starting Point

Define Your Goals

Why you want to travel, and what you’re hoping to get out of it is a great place to start. Are you looking to live lavishly without a care in the world for a few weeks? Or, are you trying to connect more deeply with yourself, your communities, and the planet? 

This is more than just how you want to travel, it also includes where. Each location has a different cost of living which is a major factor to consider. Island hopping in the Mediterranean is much more expensive than mountain trekking in South America!

The ‘way’ you envision your travels will set the scene for your expenses, and be the best starting place to begin planning!

Estimate Your Expenses

Based on how you envision your travel looking like, and where you hope you go, you’ll be able to dive deeper into the logistics of the costs you’ll face. Travel budgeting is only possible if you know what expenses you’ll likely have abroad. 

In general, this can be broken down into transport, accommodation, food, activities, health, documentation, and any pre-travel expenses you will have!


Transport is typically the most expensive element of travel expenses, especially if you fly to your destination. Be sure to check out how to book the cheapest flight so you can cut costs where possible!

Once you arrive, how much will you need to move around? Will you be in one place for a few weeks or months, is there public transport, or will you need to rent a car or a motorbike? Ground transport differs greatly by region, check out Omio for Europe, 12Go in Asia, and providers like BudBud for long-haul buses!

While you won’t know the specifics of every cost, it is essential to do some research here to understand what the expenses of your destination look like so you can move around comfortably!



Once you arrive, where will you stay? Your accommodation is an essential element that will set the scene for your trip. The luxurious traveler may love an all-inclusive with no extra thoughts, while a more cultured traveler will be looking for a homestay, guest house, or more engaging lodging experience.

Check out sites like, HostelWorld, or Airbnb to familiarize yourself with the accommodation options you have at your destination. Often, you can get great deals on accommodations by connecting with hosts directly, or with a minimum stay. For example, Airbnb often has a ‘long-term’ stay discount for any bookings over 28 days!


The food you eat while traveling depends on the type of traveler you are. Local food is always the most affordable and allows you to connect with the local culture and people while having the lowest environmental impact.

Many accommodations offer free breakfast, which is a life-savor for your budget and for those mornings you just want to take it a bit slow. Be sure to consider this in your cost and choices when choosing accommodation!

Estimate your food in terms of cost per day, so you can easily multiply it over the number of days you will be traveling. 


Technology isn’t something you need to have while traveling, but in the modern day, it’s hard to go without it. This includes your phone plan, VPN, and anything specific to you like drone registration costs, or specific tech insurance.

International phone plans can be tricky to set up, but essential for every traveler! Getting an eSIM through Nomad or Airalo can be the easiest option, and affordable! If you plan to work or connect to public WiFi, getting a VPN is also advisable to protect your data.

Use code TAYL58RX for Nomad eSIM, or TAYLOR8492 for Airalo eSIM to save $3!


What type of traveler are you? Are you excited to explore the outdoors with some hikes, dives, and anything in nature? Or, are you ready to lay back on the beach with a book and a sunhat for days on end?

The things you’re interested in greatly change your activities budget. To get ideas of what to do in a destination, I always start with a booking tour like Get Your Guide to see what is offered! 

If you have any extra money to spend with your travel budgeting, I suggest you send it towards the activities and excursions you take. These are the once-in-a-lifetime moments that you’ll remember forever.


This is an essential element of travel expenses that you really shouldn’t cut corners on. This includes travel insurance, travel medical insurance, and any relevant vaccines.

There is no better way to put stress on your travels if you aren’t fully prepared with the best travel insurance for you. In case your bags get lost or damaged, you get injured during an excursion, or if your things get stolen. Know the differences between the types of insurance, and be prepared for the unexpected.

Depending on where you’re traveling, a vaccine may be required or highly encouraged. Every country handles vaccines differently – in the US you can call your local Passport Health office to see what is advised and the costs for each. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, no US insurance company will cover these costs. 

All of the health costs can be estimated before you depart!


You cannot enter a country without the proper documentation. That may include a valid passport, a visa for entry, proof of vaccinations, proof of a booked departure ticket, and any other requirements like proof of accommodation, bank statements with a minimum balance, and more.

Check with your country’s embassy to see a full list of requirements for entry into a country. For US citizens, you can check out the US Embassy hereTo purchase a visa, check out iVisa!

All of the documentation requirements can be purchased before you depart. but will be dependent on where you’re from and where you’re going!

Pre-Travel Expenses

Are you ready to go, or do you have a few things to get still? This could include luggage, a travel backpack, a travel camera to document your trip, some packable clothing to complete your wardrobe, travel toiletries, and more!

Be realistic and don’t get more than you need. Traveling on a budget is easier when you have fewer things, especially for long-term travel plans. Check out the ultimate long-term travel packing guide so you have what you need!

Set Your Budget!

And just like that, you should have a rough idea of your budget! Whatever number you have come up with, add 10% to be sure you’re financially set even when faced with the unexpected. We can’t plan everything perfectly, but we can plan for the uncertainties of life. 

There may be some other things for you personally to consider while travel budgeting, like if you’re traveling with a pet, or a child, or going for a specific cause like a retreat or volunteering. 


Part 2: Saving For Your Trip

Now that you know approximately how much your trip is going to cost, you’ll have to save the money for it. Saving money isn’t easy for everyone, but with some simple goals and guidelines, anyone can do it!

If you already have the money at your disposal – if so, skip ahead to Part 3!

Cut Your Costs

The easiest way to save is to cut out some of your expenses currently. Maybe you make coffee at home rather than picking it up on your commute, eat at home more often, or favor free activities while you’re waiting to go on your trip. 

The sooner you can cut your costs and add to your savings, the sooner you’ll be on your way… or have more money to spend on your experience!

Track Your Expenses

To know where your money is going, and where you can maybe cut back, it’s helpful to have a  app, journal, spreadsheet, or whatever you use best to help monitor your spending. 

Historically I used Mint, which is now a part of Kredit Karma. Apps are a great way to track your spending in real-time, categorizing your transactions into specific groupings for easier tracking. 

It’s a great idea to track your spending for a few months to get an idea of your baseline, and make realistic cuts where you can!

Part 3: Make Your Money Last

Travel Credit & Debit Cards

A simple way to cut your costs abroad is by getting a credit and debit account that is designed for travelers. That means, no ATM withdrawal fees, and no foreign transaction feesNot only will you save, but you’ll also get points that you can put towards your trip! 

Not enough travelers do this, and especially when most of the world relies on cash transactions, that’s a lot of ATM withdrawals at $3.50 each! 

Travel Hacks To Save

There is no set way to save money abroad, it depends on where you go and the type of traveler you are. But, here is a list of my favorite travel hacks to save abroad that you should do on top of travel budgeting!

Travel in the Off-Season

Traveling in the off-season is a guaranteed way to save, plus, you’ll get to experience a place with way fewer people! Nothing takes away from the magic of a place than a bunch of tourists from your home country. Usually the ‘shoulder seasons’ have great weather, fewer travelers, and lower prices!

Avoid the Tourist Destinations

On the note of avoiding tourists, the places you see on Instagram that it seems everyone and their mom has been to, usually just aren’t worth it. They’re crowded, overpriced, and sometimes even require hours in a line! There are almost always hidden gems nearby that are similar, without the crowds of people.

Travel Slowly

Slow travel is a game-changer for those who have the time to do it. By traveling slowly, you’re not in a rush to see everything there is to be seen. Instead, you can wander freely, finding the hidden gems at your pace, while getting to connect to the locals and the land. 

Read more about what slow travel is and why it's right for you

More Ground TRansport, Fewer Flights

Flights are always more expensive when traveling a shorter distance. Although it seems like a huge time saver, you miss the beauty on the ground, the rolling hills, and rural landscape of a place. Not to mention, the carbon footprint of flights is insanely higher than a bus, train, or ferry. 

Thrift Shop & Local Markets

Shopping abroad can be an excursion in itself. Whether you’re at a boutique thrift store or a market with local artisans, you’re guaranteed to find unique things to bring home. Avoid shopping malls or any other chain store, you’ll be missing the unique gems you could find off the beaten path. 

Cook At Home & Eat Local

Where you eat will determine a lot of your expenses. In expensive regions like the US or Europe, cooking at home is a great way to save on costs while you try to create local dishes. If you don’t have a kitchen or you’re in a more affordable place, stick to eating where the locals do for a fun experience while saving money! 

Check Out Volunteering Abroad & Work Exchanges

If you’re an extreme budget traveler, or if you simply favor a raw experience, check out volunteering abroad and work exchanges. Programs like WorkAway or WorldPackers are a great way to experience a new place for little to no cost, with accommodation and food provided in exchange for 20 hours of work! 

Summary - Travel Budgeting

No matter what kind of traveler you are, or where in the world you want to go, it is all possible with the right planning, saving, and commitment. By breaking down each of the main expense categories, and doing some realistic travel budgeting for what you want, you’ll be able to create the trip of a lifetime!

While planning only gets you so far, saving is still a necessary component to see your dreams through to reality. Follow the tips to cut costs where you can before you go, while also choosing more budget options abroad. Traveling doesn’t need to be expensive if you don’t want it to!

As always, slow travel is the best way to save money, create a more enriching experience, reduce your stress, and make travel sustainable for the long term. Nobody wants to leave their trip, and the best part is you don’t have to!

What are some of your favorite ways to save money abroad, so you can do more?

Posted by Taylor Mallaber

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