How to Budget For a Trip: Beginners Guide


Shea Duplechain

6/5/20235 min leer

Canal in Venice, Italy at sunset
Canal in Venice, Italy at sunset

Here's a beginners guide for how to budget for a trip. This is a budget breakdown that I have used, and continue to use when budgeting for trips. I’ve found that it has always given me accurate numbers and allows me to go forward with confidence. This budget breakdown is easiest if you've planned your trip prior to attempting to budget.

Step 1 - Transportation

When I budget for a trip, I usually start with what I anticipate will be my more costly expenses and then go to the smaller ones from there. The most common large expense, and where I always start, is figuring out the cost of transportation. This will include everything from airfare, rental car, train passes, etc. I know what kind of transportation I will need ahead of time for the most part, so it just comes down to figuring out the cost. I almost will alway need to board a plane to get to a destination, so estimating what my plane ticket will cost is often my first step.

Airfare cost will vary throughout the year, and at the time I'm budgeting for that trip, I still may be many months out from buying the ticket and even more until actually going on the trip. What I tend to do when estimating airfare, is see what the cost to fly out to that destination is for the next day and use that price. Even though I will probably be paying far less than that price, I still budget for it anyway because I know that will be the maximum price I would pay. If there is an area that you want to over estimate for, its transportation. You never know when an unexpected fee may occur.

After budgeting for airfare, figuring out estimates for the rest of transportation (if any), is fairly easy. Rental car prices are easy to budget for, as their prices tend not to fluctuate too much. A quick google search of rental car prices at your destination should provide you with enough information to make a solid budget estimation. The only thing I would recommend is that if you’re under the age of 25, you will most likely have to pay a few extra fees. I would make a note of that for your budget. Train passes are often destination specific, so you may not be budgeting for this at all. If so, finding the prices for rail passes online is easy, and will provide you with an exact price depending on the type of pass you purchase.

Step 2 - Accommodation

After transportation, the next biggest expense is typically accommodation. The most common forms of accommodation would be hotels, hostels, and airbnbs. Because accommodations provide you with what the price of a place is per night, it makes it rather easy to estimate for your budget; however, you may have to take a few extra steps depending on the type of accommodation you plan to use.

Hostels are the easiest of accommodations to budget for. They are not only the cheaper option, but also do not fluctuate in price like other types of accommodation. Using a site like, you’ll be able to see the price of hostels of any destination around the world. The site will provide you with the cost per night, and will also list the different types of rooms that they provide as well. I recommend using hostels for anyone looking to travel for cheaper or traveling for the first time. They are the easiest to book, cheapest to stay, and provide the best environments.

Budgeting for hotels or airbnbs, will be a little more difficult as they are not as consistent with their prices as hostels are. Hotels will be the easiest of the two, as they will provide a similar nightly cost like hostels. The only difference is that hotel prices tend to vary depending on the time of year or if any events are happening in its proximity. Hotel prices will be more expensive during tourist seasons, so if you're planning on visiting a destination in its peak season, take that into account. I would also recommend looking up if there are any events going on during your trip, as this could also affect the prices of your accommodation.

Airbnbs are the most difficult, as they require booking months in advance and often come with expensive hidden fees. I would recommend not using airbnbs for first time travelers, especially if you're going abroad, as it may be difficult to communicate with owners and can be troublesome accessing properties at times.

I will normally budget for whatever the average price is for a particular area. Once you’ve gotten an estimate for your chosen form of accommodation; just multiply that by the number of days you’re going.

Step 3 - Food

By this step of the budget, all of your fixed expenses should be out of the way, and all other expenses are more subjective. Food prices around the world will vary depending on your location, but it will usually come down to what you will want to spend day to day. I would recommend looking up what the average cost per meal is at the destination you are planning on going to. I like to stay around $50 a day when traveling, and try to keep it under that if I can.

Booking an accommodation that provides breakfast is a good way to cut down on food expenses. If you can’t find a place that provides breakfast, planning out your meals will help as well. I tend to try and stick to two meals a day with a small snack if I get hungry. If you're not a huge breakfast person like me, then eating two meals a day won’t be a huge problem for you. If you are, then try eating a big breakfast in the morning, and plan for an earlier dinner. If you get hungry in the middle of the day, stop at a cafe for a pastry or small sandwich. This won’t break the bank, or take a lot of time out of your day.

Step 4 - Additional Fees

If you know you are going to any museums or tourist attractions, adding their entrance fee to your budget will help form a more accurate number. The fee of a museum or tourist attraction can usually be found somewhere online, typically on their site or on respected travel sites.

Aside from location fees, shopping and souvenirs would be the only other aspects of traveling I would recommend budgeting for. I don’t typically indulge in these, as I don’t normally have the money or space to buy items and clothes while traveling. If you do plan on partaking in shopping or souvenir buying, I would just add a few hundred dollars to the end of your budget. This should cover any potential shopping expenses and any additional fees you may not have accounted for.

Safe Travels!

I’ve used these same steps to budget for numerous trips; both domestically and abroad. Budgeting can be a stressful and tedious process, but if you follow this guide it should be smooth sailing.