Going on vacation is usually a whirlwind of packing, searching for documents, and rushing to the airport. But in all the excitement, our commitment to budgeting (or any kind of sane money management) can go out the window. To avoid coming home to a pile of scary-looking letters from your credit card company, check out these simple tips on how to stick to your budget whilst on vacation.
How to Stick to Your Budget on Vacation
Plan For Absolutely Everything
Nothing burns through your cash quicker than impulse buys and spur-of-the-moment purchases. The more you're prepared, the easier it will be to stick to your budget on vacation. So do your research, from the cost of the shuttle from the airport to the price of hotel WiFi. (Pro tip: joining the hotel loyalty program often eliminates the WiFi charge.)
Add a Financial Cushion to Your Budget
It's all too easy to run out of money early, and being penniless in a foreign environment is no fun. With that in mind, it's always wise to add a little extra cushion into your vacation budget. An extra 10% to 15% will make it possible to splash out on an unexpected balloon ride — or cover an exorbitant mini bar bill.
Be Aware of Local Tipping Customs
It may not seem like a big deal, but tips can really add up over the course of a holiday. But did you know there are plenty of destinations where tipping is not only unnecessary, but actively discouraged? In some countries, like Japan and Hong Kong, tipping may even be seen as an insult! Check out our international tipping guide for more details.
Beware of Sneaky Extra Charges
Being a tourist is fraught with extra taxes, unexpected fees, and hidden charges. Some of these (like New York City's tax of $3.50 per room per night) are pretty negligible, but others (like those infamous Las Vegas resort fees) can double the cost of your room.
Find the Right Travel Apps
Don't go on vacation without setting your phone to holiday mode, too! Downloading some handy (and usually free) apps will help you keep track of your budget while you're on the go. Apps like Trail Wallet allow you to allocate a daily budget and track your expenditures throughout the day. Other useful apps you might consider include a tip calculator and a currency converter.
Packing Light is Packing Right
Often when we head out on vacation, we just chuck everything into a bag until it won't close anymore. But leaving a little space for gifts or souvenirs ahead of time can save you from having to purchase another suitcase — and spend extra on baggage fees — during your return trip.
Opt for an All-Inclusive Stay
Avoid lots of surprise expenses with an all-inclusive package that lets you leave your wallet in the room and enjoy your vacation cash-free. Check out our article on all-inclusive resorts for a more detailed look at the pros and cons.
Keep It Simple
Our top tip for sticking to your budget whilst on vacation is to keep it simple. Of course it's tempting to do all the things! But sticking to one or two really enticing activities per day will give you time to actually enjoy what you're doing — and your wallet will thank you for it.
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