After more than a year of pandemic-induced travel shutdown, people across the globe are gearing up to begin exploring again. If you’re one of the millions of Americans planning on heading out to domestic or international destinations this summer and beyond, it’s time to work on your travel budget. Our simple-to-use travel budget calculator can help you plan your expenses and make solid financial choices that will enable you to have the trip of a lifetime.
How to Use the Travel Budget Calculator
Our travel budget calculator is easy to use and can help you make the most of your next adventure.
Here’s how to use it:
- Select your trip type: flying, driving, cruise, or other
- Enter your total trip allowance
- Enter your anticipated travel expenses
- Enter the number of travelers
- Enter total cost of airline tickets/gas/cruise tickets
- Enter total cost of baggage fees if any
- Enter your lodging costs
- Enter the number of nights you plan to stay at your destination
- Enter the estimated cost per room (use an average across multiple nights if rates vary during your stay)
- Enter your food and drink expenses
- Enter the number of travelers
- Enter the number of meals you plan to consume over the course of each day during your vacation
- Enter the number of days of your vacation
- Enter medical expenses
- Enter the number of travelers
- Enter the cost of COVID-19 testing: Certain destinations require travelers to show proof of negative COVID test results before entering. Be sure to do your research and understand the COVID requirements of your destination, especially if traveling abroad.
- Enter any anticipated doctor fees for COVID-19 testing
How to Plan Your Travel Budget
Creating a travel budget requires some upfront planning, but taking the important steps early on can ensure you enjoy your vacation to the fullest. Here are key steps to consider as you start planning your vacation:
1. Determine how much you can spend on vacation
It’s important to consider how much you can realistically spend on your vacation before calculating total travel costs. If you need help determining this starting point, consider using our 50/30/20 budget calculator. This is a common budgeting approach recommended by financial experts. Its logic stipulates that you spend:
- 50% of your total after-tax income on necessities, such as housing and utility bills
- 30% of your after-tax income on wants, such as vacations
- 20% of your after-tax income on savings, such as retirement funds, or paying off debt
Once you’ve determined 30% of your after-tax income, you can allocate that money to your vacation.
2. Determine estimated travel costs
Once you know how much you want to spend in total, list out all of the big expenses you anticipate during your adventures, such as accommodations, food, and activities. Seek estimates from multiple sources; you can rely on Google to search, or head to designated travel search engines such as Expedia or Travelocity.
As you research, gather ballpark estimates for your costs, including accommodations (hotels, Airbnbs, hostels, etc.), transportation (flights, car rentals, and public transportation), and activities (guided tours, museums, etc.) costs. Once you have a list of estimates for these expenditures, plug them into our free travel budget calculator to get a ballpark estimate on total trip costs.
3. Enter estimated costs into travel calculator
Plug your estimates into the travel calculator. Check out our step by step instructions on how to use the travel budget calculator above to guide your entries.
4. Compare your budget with your estimated total vacation cost
After using the travel budget calculator, compare the estimated cost figure with your vacation budget. If your costs exceed the amount you wish to spend on your vacation, consider tweaking some of your trip expenses. This might mean finding lower airfare by adjusting your travel dates, exploring budget-friendly accommodations instead of splurging on an upscale resort, or booking less expensive activities during your stay. This exercise may also encourage you to allocate more money towards your upcoming adventure instead of spending on local “fun” expenses, such as movie tickets or dinners out. You may also consider supplementing your income with a side gig to build up your savings more quickly.
Once you do have your vacation budget set in stone, be sure to transfer the money into a separate savings account to help you better track your spending and stay within the confines of your vacation budget.
Traveling On a Budget: Frequently asked questions
How did COVID Impact Travel in 2020?
As the world shut down to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus, travel spending took an immediate dive. In the entire year of 2020, travel spending totaled only $679 billion, which is a 42% annual decline (nearly $500 billion) from the previous year.
International travel was significantly impacted, as countries closed their borders to foreign guests in hopes of quelling the spread of this deadly disease. In fact, international travel spending fell 76%. Now, as countries open again to foreign travelers, and domestic travel becomes easier, many Americans are heading out to continue their explorations.
How much do I need to budget for a vacation?
The answer to this question can vary depending on an array of factors, including destination, the number of travelers in your group, desired accommodations, and planned sights and activities. Use our travel budget calculator to help factor in these considerations.
What’s the average cost of travel in 2021?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey, a four-day vacation in the United States (for a U.S. citizen) costs $581, which equates to about $144 per day. This can be highly variable depending on your vacation plans, however.
How can I stay on budget while traveling?
Make it easier to stick to your travel budget by following these tips:
- Break your total budget into daily spending budgets
- Sign up for a budget app to track your spending
- Try local establishments instead of expensive chains
- Browse multiple options before spending money. For example, if there are multiple guided tours, find the lower cost option to save money where you can – it can quickly add up!
With the right budget in place, you can make your next adventure a trip to remember. Take advantage of our free calculator and make the most of your vacation. Happy travels!