How To Avoid Going Over Budget on Vacation

By on February 13, 2014

vacation spendingRaise your hand if you want to go on a vacation right now.

Okay that makes two of us.

I know that I just recently went on a trip in January, but this cold, dreary weather has me thinking of someplace warm and tropical.

The only problem is that vacations can be expensive, and once you are actually on one, it’s very easy to overspend.

So, if you are about to head out and enjoy some sunshine somewhere, here are a few tips that will help prevent you from going over your budget.

1. Start With a Plan

I get it; it’s kind of lame to bring a budget with you on vacation. The whole point is to relax and be carefree. However, unless you are staying at an all inclusive resort, it is important to have an idea of how much you want to spend every day.

Usually I keep a small notepad (because I try to turn off my phone!) and jot down what I spent at the end of each day. If I notice that I went a little over on the food spending, I’ll know to cut back a little and choose someplace more casual for lunch the following day.

This isn’t an extreme add-up-the-receipts method. It’s just a way of keeping tabs of what’s going out so you aren’t left with a shocking credit card bill when you get home.

2. Do Your Research

One thing to watch out for are tourist traps when you travel. You don’t have to plan out every single minute of your trip, but having a list of restaurants or attractions you are interested in seeing is definitely helpful. This prevents you from being sucked into an overpriced restaurant or cheap souvenir shop, which means you will have more money in your pocket to spend on the things you do want.

3. Expect the Unexpected

I’m a big advocate of an emergency fund, and vacations are no exception. Unfortunate events happen when people travel. Whether you experience weather delays at the airport, lose your passport, or have your wallet stolen, you should have a plan for how you will pay for the unexpected expenses.

Just one extra night in an airport hotel due to unforeseen delays can get your vacation budget off track, so make sure you factor in these possibilities. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use it and you can apply the extra funds you saved to your next trip!

Ultimately, I’ve found that having a financial plan for a vacation is actually quite liberating. I used to take trips and swipe my card without even thinking about what I was doing. It was easy to live by the mantra, “I’m on vacation! I’m supposed to be relaxing!” However, it’s never fun to come home and have to pay off a huge, unexpected credit card bill without even remembering how it got that high.

So, now I take the time to plan out vacation budgets and save for them ahead of time. Then and only then have I experienced a truly relaxing vacation!

About Catherine Alford

Catherine Alford is a personal finance writer who received a B.A. from The College of William and Mary and an M.A. from Virginia Tech. When she is not writing for other websites on all topics frugal and fabulous, she enjoys sharing her adventures on her blog, www.BudgetBlonde.com. Follow her on Twitter @BudgetBlonde or like Budget Blonde on Facebook.

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