How to Make a Vacation Budget

get ready to travel with tips on how to make a travel budget

You’re excited about taking a trip this summer. You have selected a destination and now you need to start preparing for it. But how much money do you need for the big trip? Travel expenses can quickly become costly, so it’s important to make a travel budget. Here are some tips on how to make a vacation budget.

Make a Vacation Budget by First Determining the Costs

If you know your destination, you can start to figure out how much you’ll need for your trip. Depending on where you go, the cost of things like food and amenities can vary. You can easily find prices for essentials like airfare and hotels online, and even small activity costs like museum admission tickets are readily available. First and foremost, estimate the cost of the most essential items, such as:

Transportation to Your Destination and Back

Try determining your route while on vacation to calculate travel costs while you make a vacation budget.

You need a way to get to your destination. Whether you’re flying, taking a train or driving just a couple hours from home, the travel portion of your budget will likely be the biggest expense. Research transportation costs first to estimate the cost. If you’re traveling to another country you’ll have to fly, so compare airline prices before booking. If you’re staying in the country, you’ll have options. Driving, taking a train or bus, or carpooling with family or friends, are all possibilities. Spend the time looking into the possible forms of transportation you can take.

The Cost of Getting Around While on Your Trip

Chances are you will need transportation when you get where you’re going. Always investigate public transportation first. If available, this will be the most inexpensive option. A quick search will typically yield routes and ticket prices. Many cities also offer a day or multi-day pass at a discount. Depending on how much you’ll need transport, this could be a good option. Factor in taxis to from the airport, and within a city, if public transport isn’t feasible. A car rental, although typically more expensive, is another possibility, especially if you plan on doing a lot of traveling on your trip.

Paying for Room and Board

Where you stay on your vacation will also be a large part of the budget. Spend some time looking into hotels, motels, hostels, bed & breakfasts, apartment rentals and Airbnb locations. Make sure to read the reviews and peruse the amenities lists, along with prices. Certain accommodations may include breakfast or other perks that can help save on overall costs. The location of your lodging should also be a consideration. It may be more expensive to stay in the heart of a city where all the activities you want to do are, but booking a place far away means you might spend more on transport. Weigh all the options.

Buying Meals and Snacks

Plan your budget by calculating the cost of food during your vacationYou can get a good idea of how much you’ll spend on food by checking out restaurants on Yelp or another dining review site. Get a sampling of places in the area you’re visiting for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Make sure to factor in additional costs for bottles of water or snacks during the day, or for a fancy night out on the town. If you plan on drinking alcohol, that will be an additional expense. If you want to reduce your food budget, look for accommodations that include breakfast. You can also consider booking an Airbnb or apartment that has a kitchen. Buy groceries and cook some meals to save a few bucks.

Prices for Fun Activities

Going on vacation means you get to experience new places and participate in activities unique to your destination. Wherever you plan to vacation, make a list of activities you’d like to do and research entrance fees for the attractions like museums, parks or historical sites. If you plan to do some expensive activities like taking a food tour or go whale watching, make sure to add those costs to your budget.

Purchases Gifts and Souvenirs

Limit your spending on souvenirs and gifts or consider cheaper items like post cards.

When you go on vacation, you may want to purchase something to remember the trip. Buying postcards is an inexpensive way to go, but if you want to bring back something pricier like a piece of artwork or clothes, you’ll need to leave plenty of room in your suitcase and in your travel budget. Some items you buy may also need to be shipped back. You should be mindful of shipping costs while making your budget.

How to Save to Keep Your Summer Budget in Check

Once you’ve researched all your costs, you need to make a plan to start saving for your trip. Create a timeline and a schedule. You can save a certain amount each week, each month, or come up with another system to ensure you have the proper funds before you go. There are several good options for saving after you’ve had the time to make your vacation budget, including:

Create a Separate Vacation Budget Account

One way to save is to open separate savings accounts for your vacation. Keeping your vacation fund separate from your other accounts reduces the chance that you’ll spend the money. Start by researching various online banks for a zero-fee account with the highest interest rate.

Cut Back on Spending Before You Leave

If you find it difficult to save money, you may want to figure out a way to curb your general spending habits. This means creating an overall budget to help you track what you are purchasing. You may discover you’re overspending on restaurants, entertainment or even groceries. Once you identify the source of your money issues, you can take steps to mitigate them by cutting back on spending, or shopping at cheaper places.

Set Up Automatic Deposits

Setting up separate accounts to help you save up for your vacation is a great way to help you budget.

Set up automatic bank transfers for your vacation fund so it grows on a regular basis. Dedicating a chunk of your paycheck is a good way to do this. Making it automatic means you won’t have to remember to allocate funds every week or every month, and you’ll be less likely to miss the money.

Save Extra and Unexpected Income

You may receive some extra money in the form of a tax return or work bonus. Maybe you got a bunch of cash for your birthday or for a holiday. Instead of spending this extra money on something right away, you can put it in your vacation fund to help you build toward your travel goal faster.

Don’t Touch Your Vacation Fund

Once you start a fund for your next vacation, make sure you keep it reserved for your vacation only.


If you are diligent and dedicated, your vacation fund will grow. When you see it adding up, the temptation to use it for something else can be powerful. This is when you must steel yourself and remember your goal. Never dip into your vacation fund unless you have an emergency.



Whether overseas or a stay-cation, you shouldn’t have to deny yourself the pleasure of getting away because of cost. Try out some of these tips for how to make a vacation budget, and let the wandering begin!

About Midland National:

As part of Sammons® Financial Group, Midland National’s A+ rating was affirmed on July 6, 2017. View A.M. Best’s summary review of Midland National.




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