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How To Budget For Vacation

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

Girl walking with a suitcase

Have you ever had the post-holiday blues, not because you miss sipping piña coladas on a beach, but because your bank account is waving the white flag?

Let's change that, shall we?

Here's your ultimate guide to budgeting for your next vacation so that your memories are soaked in sunshine, not clouded by money troubles.

Why Should You Make a Vacation Budget?

Think of it like your trusty GPS, steering you clear of financial potholes and taking you straight to the fun parts. No one likes nasty surprises, especially on a trip, and having a budget is your best bet against those unexpected "Oops, I spent how much?!" moments.

And the cherry on top? It frees you up to spend a little extra on that fancy dinner or spontaneous adventure because you've planned your funds smartly.

Budgeting Basics

Here are some tips to keep you on track:

Plan Ahead - Way Ahead

The List is Your Friend

Now let's talk about each category when it comes to creating a vacation budget!


Transportation & Accommodation

Travel expenses are a major player in any vacation budget. Whether you're jet-setting or hitting the open road, plan for all possible costs!

Air Travel:

Air expenses could include:

  • Plane Ticket

  • Checked bag: (round-trip, of course!)

  • The average cost of a checked bag is $30 for one, $40 for two, and $150 for three

Pro Tip

Road Trips:

Road Travel expenses could include:

  • Gas – calculate on average how much you think you would spend

  • Food Stops – this expense can be lowered by packing food prior to the drive (i.e sandwiches, fruit, snacks, drinks)

  • Traveling via car services can range on average from $10 - $30 daily

  • The average price for car rentals varies depending on the supplier. Apps like Turo and Kayak provide cars you can rent for as low as $25 per day.

Pro Tip


Lodging expenses can make or break a budget.

  • After transportation, accommodations will be your next major expense. Often times it is the first depending on the number of nights you stay.

  • Whether you choose to stay in a hotel, Airbnb, or other housing services, make sure to allocate all possible costs

    • (deposits, taxes, additional fees, etc).

Pro Tip

Food & Dining

Tasting local flavors is part of the travel experience, but it shouldn't leave a bitter taste in your bank account. Design a daily food budget - set a price for daily food costs in your budgeting plan.

  • $50 - $75 is a good range to set

  • Make sure to account for tips and gratuity

You can save money by looking for affordable dining options, such as local eateries or street food, to experience the local cuisine without breaking the bank. Packing snacks also come in handy to satisfy those small pangs of hunger without sparing a few dollars

Pro Tip

Activities & Entertainment

What's a vacation without a bit of fun? Allocate funds for the experiences that will bring your vacation to life.

Setting a budget for entertainment does not require you to know every activity you want to partake in. Rather, account for the cost of popular activities at your destination or activities you have researched that intrigue you and account for those in your budget.

Pro Tip

Clothing & Personal Care

Retail therapy might be an essential part of your vacation, and that's okay. Simply include it in your budget - a recommended limit is $200 for pre-trip purchases and $100-$200 for shopping while traveling.

Make sure to account for any personal care items you may buy during your trip like:

  • Toothpaste

  • Deodorant

  • Band-Aids

  • Vitamins

Also, remember to account for personal care and grooming - looking good is feeling good!

Emergency Funds

Since life can throw curveballs, always have a backup plan. Reserve about 10% of your vacation budget for unforeseen circumstances.

Better to return home with surplus funds than surprise debts!

You've created your budgeting roadmap. Now let's stay on course:

Track Your Expenses

Expect the Unexpected

Don't Compromise on Joy


Enhance Your Budgeting Success with My Wealth Planner

The Wealth Planner is an undated roadmap to turning your dreams into reality by breaking them down, writing them down, and getting them accomplished.

The Planner is undated and includes:

My Wealth Planner
  • Notes Pages

  • QR Code to financial education videos

  • Monthly To-Do Checklist

  • Weekly Wealth Affirmations

  • Annual, Monthly, and Weekly goal-setting pages

  • Long-Term/Short-term Financial Goals Page

  • Monthly Budgeting Worksheet Pages

  • Financial Tips & Tax info

  • Debt Reduction Plan Worksheet

  • Annual and Monthly Expenses Worksheets

  • Subscription and Account Information Pages

  • Monthly Review/ Reflection page

  • Lines on weekdays to better plan out days

  • Smart layout to allow you to review daily tasks and weekly goals/ notes


Apps to Ease Your Budgeting Journey

Let's leverage the power of technology for budgeting

Here are some user-friendly apps to help make your financial planning effortless and even enjoyable:

Mint App


​A free, personal finance app that's perfect for overseeing your vacation expenses.

Download on the App Store button
Get It On Google Play Button

Expensify App


An excellent tool for managing receipts and expenses during your trip.

Download on the App Store button
Get It On Google Play Button

XE Currency App

XE Currency

An essential app for when you're abroad, offering live exchange rates and easy currency conversion.

Download on the App Store button
Get It On Google Play Button

GasBuddy App


An absolute gem for road trippers, offering real-time information about the cheapest gas stations on your route.

Download on the App Store button
Get It On Google Play Button

Remember: these apps are just tools; the real secret to a successful budget-friendly vacation is smart planning and mindful spending.


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