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February 23, 2010

Tame your travel budget with Budget Your Trip

The most difficult long-term travel question is also perhaps the most common: how much does it cost?

It’s almost impossible to answer that question because it depends where you’re going, when you’re going and how exactly you plan to travel. Tiny variations in how you travel can have a huge impact on your trip costs. Do you plan to eat street food or sit down to five-course spreads every night? Love to hit the local bars? Sharing a room? Traveling alone?

We’ve pointed to a few good, example budgets in the past and suggested that $14,000/year is a good average, but we recently stumbled across a new site, Budget Your Trip, that’s hoping to make it even easier to figure out how much cash you need for your dream trip.

Budget Your Trip is a bit like general personal finance and budget tracking websites — like Wesabe or Mint — but geared specifically toward travelers.

Plug in your destination and Budget Your Trip will show you an average of how much the site’s members spent there. Budget Your Trip also breaks down those costs into common categories — food, accommodation, water, transportation, etc — so you can see where your money is going. There’s also a handy currency converter so you can quickly see the average in local or your own currency.

The planning tools allow you to create a trip from scratch (based on, for example, how much money you have set aside) or build your trip budget using the site’s existing averages and sample budgets.

One potential problem with using Budget Your Trip as planning tool is that there’s no indication of what sort of travelers are adding their costs to the site. For example, Budget Your Trip’s Bangkok averages suggest it costs $40 a day to get by, when in fact we, and many people we know, have gotten by on far less. Have prices in Bangkok gone up recently or are not-so-budget travelers skewing the results?

Currently there’s no way to tell the answer to that question, but fortunately, fixing that is on Budget Your Trip’s short-list of coming improvements.

Laurie, who founded Budget Your Trip with her husband after the two returned from a round the world trip last year, says that there are plans to add tools for narrowing estimates according to your budget. Currently, when you “estimate costs” for a potential trip you can only search by city or country. Laurie says they will be adding additional search parameters including “budget type” (budget, mid-range, or luxury), “trip type” (personal or business) and “group size” (solo traveler, couple, or group) in the near future.

The ability to narrow cost projections by budget and group size will no doubt make the site more useful for vagabonds.

We should also point out that Budget Your Trip isn’t just a planning tool. Once you’re actually on the road you can keep track of your costs, entering the data into your budget and making adjustments as you go. For example, you might find you’re spending less than you planned in Thailand, leaving you more to spend in Vietnam or perhaps just allowing you to extend your trip.

The site also offers graphs, charts and other very nice visual breakdowns that can quickly show you where your money is going. Not really the type of traveler that keeps receipts? As Laurie says, “it may not be necessary to track your expenses to the last penny, but seeing a breakdown of what percentage you’re spending on accommodation, food, or souvenirs can motivate you to save a little more.”

For example, becoming aware of that one thing that busts your budget everyday is a great way to stop the excess spending, potentially extending your time on the road.

If, like us, you tend to avoid the internet cafes while you’re on the road then Budget Your Trip might be more useful as a planning tool, however, Laurie did tell use that eventually the site is hoping to offer a spreadsheet you download and print for offline budget tracking.

In the mean time, if you’re looking for yet another data source to help answer the age old question of how much it costs to travel the world, check out Budget Your Trip.

Posted by | Comments (4) 
Category: Money Management, Travel Tech, Vagabonding Advice


4 Responses to “Tame your travel budget with Budget Your Trip”

  1. jmm Says:

    I use a similarly high tech method to alter my budget as I go – portable, reliable, and reviewable on demand! It’s called a notebook and I write down exchange rates as I see or get them, my declining bank balance when checked, and expenses. Sometimes I gather meta-data from others about where to get inexpensive supplies, good cheap food, and friendly clean accomodation… often by the mystical use of conversation.

    Oh. And for the record. I use askmefi for localized travel advice. It’s awesome and no one ever writes about it. I don’t know why someone doesn’t steal the format for travel purposes. Like you guys. Just saying.

  2. On the Internet! « Budget Your Trip Says:

    [...] Vagablogging: Once you’re actually on the road you can keep track of your costs, entering the data into your budget and making adjustments as you go. For example, you might find you’re spending less than you planned in Thailand, leaving you more to spend in Vietnam or perhaps just allowing you to extend your trip. [...]

  3. The Backpack Foodie Says:

    This sort of information is interesting when you want to compare between travel destinations – e.g. how much more expensive is Tokyo as compared to Bangkok – but as you point out, it’s really pointless if there’s no notion of differences in travelers.

    My spouse and myself end up spending more or less depending not only on where we are, but on how we feel at that time. On our first go through Thailand, we splurged on a nice budget hotel and spent long evenings eating local seafood and drinking Sangsom… But later, we took to eating a lot of street food in Isaan province. The difference was a shocking $15/day.

    Still, it’s nice to see traveler-oriented budget tools online. Thanks for sharing the link!

  4. Rebecca Travel-Writers-Exchange Says:

    Great advice and thanks for the all of the websites. Who knew there were sites to help you budget your travel!

    Creating a budget depends on where you’re traveling to in the world. Some countries are cheaper than others. Then again, if you know where to find the deals, you’ll be golden. You could ask yourself: Where do I want to stay hostel or on a farm? What kind of transportation will I use? Will I travel solo? Asking yourself these and other questions will help you plan your trip.

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