To make sure that the vacation you've been planning all year round actually turns out to be as good as your Instagram feed, you need to plan and budget your trip wisely. Even the dreamiest of vacations can turn horrific, and if you aren't the first-born of a billionaire, your budgeting matters. Whether you're staying in a 5-star suite or bunking with others as you backpack across Europe, you need to make sure you're getting the most for your money. Here are some travel and budgeting tips that you should always remember before planning a vacation. So once you have finally found a place you wish to explore...
1. Apply for a passport/visa
If you are one of the lucky few who already has a visa and a passport sorted out, great. But if not, we suggest you do this first because it generally takes some time for all the paperwork to be sorted out and trust me, you do not want the headache of not knowing what's happening till the last minute. If you don't have much time in your hands but still wish to travel abroad, visit a place where you can obtain a visa on arrival.
2. Make a transportation budget
The second step applies to all. Always, always have a fool-proof transportation budget. Choose a mode of transport. If you have to fly, look for the cheapest return tickets. Using public transportation is one of the most budget-friendly ways to travel. Do a bit of research on the place you're travelling to and set aside an approximate budget for it. Do not forget to factor in the taxi rides from the airport to the hotel. Also, if you're planning a road trip around the country, find the best way to commute. You might need to find the cost of renting a vehicle and add to the budget.
3. Budget your accommodation
Depending on where you're going and who you're going with, figure out the lodging scenario. Decide what kind of an accommodation you're looking for, whether it's a hotel, motel, lodge, guest house or an AirBnB-like arrangement. Budget your stay accordingly. Also, always remember to read the reviews of the place itself and the area around. Be sure to multiply the number of nights you'll be there. Even if you don't end up staying at the place, you'll still get a better idea of the lodging costs in and around the area.
4. Some say you should budget your food as well.
This is a hard thing to do. Particularly hard for a foodie like me. Having restraints on food is really hard for me but not going overboard is important. Have a budget set for each meal. This will also vary, of course. An average meal in Europe will be more expensive than South East Asia. One way of keeping a tab on your food is to look for accommodation that offers a complimentary breakfast.
5. An activity budget
This is where researching your destination actually makes a lot of sense. Look for fun things to do. If you just plan to visit museums, art galleries and other historical monuments it might not make a difference. But if you plan to do more adventurous things like sky diving, bungee jumping, scuba diving etc, you need to make a budget for it. Many adventure sports companies offer combo deals which end up being cheaper than usual. Shopping is another way to spend all your money. Make sure you take note of all these things.
Whatever you do, do not end up making these silly mistakes -
1. Not having a long enough window between connecting flights
Always have a window of an hour and a half between connecting flights. People often miss this out and end up missing their flights or misplacing their luggage. Both of which are not only expensive but also highly annoying. Experts say 45 minutes is also fine, but even that is cutting it too fine. If you're relying on your airline to make sure this doesn't turn into a problem, you're trusting them too much.
2. Not applying for your paperwork in advance
We have mentioned this one before and we will say it again. Always apply for your paperwork well in advance. In fact, you should only book your tickets after you've been cleared to fly. A lot of times people end up cancelling their tickets because their visa didn't get sanctioned. Which is great if you're an airline owner, not so much if you're a budget traveller.
3. Underestimating the distance between places
It's a major bummer if you end up realising that your hotel is actually in the middle of nowhere miles away from where the action actually is. Let's say you visit a hot place. You might want to catch a little siesta back in your room before heading out for the evening. That's not possible if your hotel is in the suburbs. Don't just look at what the cheapest place is, also look at what's happening around.
4. Trying to do too much in a single trip
There's not a lot to add to this really but just because you're travelling to Europe doesn't mean you end up visiting every country there. Spend some time, make it a memorable experience, not just a checkbox that you need to tick off your list.
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