How to Create a Budget for a Trip Abroad

Items for a traveler, hat passport and sunglasses

Is there anything more exciting than a trip abroad? Who doesn’t love the chance to be immersed in a different world of sights, sounds, tastes, experiences and adventures beyond their borders?

Whether you’re traveling on a shoestring budget and crashing at youth hostels along the way, or pampering yourself at the Four Seasons, you’ll want to be sure you set a budget before you go. If you’re headed the luxury route, you might want to consider opening a separate bank account to fund your adventures and send a portion of your paycheck directly to that account each payday.

Create your dream list

Having a realistic idea of how much your trip will cost can relieve much of the stress and uncertainty of travel. Start by creating a list of all the expenses you know you’ll incur, along with a dream list of all the things you’d like to include on your trip and separate them into three categories:

  • Fixed Costs
    • Airfare
    • Accommodations
    • Transportation (car rentals, trains, buses, taxis, boats)
  • Variable costs
    • Food: Sometimes you’ll eat on the cheap, other times you’ll want to splurge. Account for both.
    • Activities: Are you looking to try scuba diving? Skiing? Hang-gliding? Camel riding through the desert? New experiences are why you decided to travel in the first place. Use your imagination to come up with a wish list.
    • Attractions: If you’re looking to attend some tourist attractions, consider entry fees and tickets.
    • Shopping: Let’s be honest, buying souvenirs and gifts are part of the adventure, too!
    • Tips: if you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort, or taking a cruise, food (and sometimes alcohol) is factored into your fare, but tips are not.
  • Costs before you go
    • Passport and visas: Is your passport up-to-date? If not, factor it into your budget.
    • Travel insurance: Experts say this is a must-have for an overseas trip.
    • Health costs: Some countries require proof of vaccination before you go, which might require a trip to a travel clinic. Check with the CDC website and HHS website www.vaccines.gov well ahead of your trip, as some inoculations require a wait period between vaccination and travel.
    • Pet care: Kennels can add a significant cost to travel.
notebook with a list planning for a trip, earphones and camera

Do your research

Now that you have a list, it’s time to price everything out. Figure out your biggest expenses first, like airfare and accommodations, and then dive into everything else. It will take a lot of research, use your check out trip review websites and talk with your friends, family and coworkers to find out if they have an insider knowledge For example, your online research might lead you to believe that renting a car in Italy is a cheaper and more convenient option than the train. But when you start asking around, you might hear horror stories from other travelers of pricey traffic tickets generated by traffic cameras that started pouring in months after they returned stateside. Be sure to factor in the exchange rate during your research.

Put it all together

Now that you have your dream list with cost estimates, it’s time to formulate a plan. Determine how much you can spend on your trip, subtract the fixed costs, and then decide which items on your dream list will make the cut.

Doing the research and setting a budget for your trip abroad might seem like a grueling task, but it will give you a realistic look at what you will and won’t be able to afford. The last thing you want is to get to where you’re going, only to discover that you don’t have the funds to cover it.

Now that your trip is planned, don’t forget to check these items of your
to-do list before you head out!