Friday, June 15, 2012

Mid-month Money Manifesto

First off, I can't believe it's almost the middle of the year.  Second of all, I can't believe it's already the middle of June.  This month is flying by!  I am just weeks away from my big vacation of the year!  I'm heading to British Columbia in early July for Amber's wedding.  I am so excited as British Columbia is one of my favorite places in North America - this is actually the 3rd time I am visiting this region in 3 years (and I have plans to visit again next summer!).  If you haven't been there, I highly recommend it - it's got something for everyone as they have the mountains and the ocean!  What more could a girl ask for?

So with my vacation just around the corner, vacation budgeting is on my mind, so I thought I'd talk a little bit about vacation planning for this month's mid-month money manifesto post.  Truth be told, up until the last 2 years, I really did not consciously think about how much I would spend on a vacation.  I just sort of booked it, spent money while I was on the trip without really thinking about a budget for spending, and came home and never looked back on how much it cost me.  That so doesn't happen anymore - especially now that I have some other big financial goals, like saving up for a down payment for a home...

Vacations are meant to be fun and enjoyable, and stressing about money on a vacation takes away from the fun of the experience.  So here are a couple of things I do to keep the costs under control or help myself track my spending:

1.  Rent an apartment.  This isn't always possible - like during my BC trip I'll be in 3 different places (Seattle, Vancouver, and the island were Amber gets married) so I will stay in hotels.  But if it's at all possible, I opt to rent an apartment over staying in a hotel.  I find that the cost/night is on par with hotels - or even less.  When I went to Paris for my 30th, renting an apartment was the best decision ever.  I usually ate 1-2 (delicious) meals in my apartment each day, which freed up money for a couple of nicer meals and other excursions. Plus, it allowed me to live more like a local by shopping at markets, the local butcher shop, and the local produce stand!

2.  Spread out your spending.  I try to book things over a long period of time so that I am not paying for everything all at once.  My flight usually gets booked 3-6 months in advance (which most people obviously do), and if I am staying in a hotel, I book and pay for it 1-3 months in advance. I really like having the hotel paid for ahead of time so that I am not shelling out money like crazy the week of the trip.

3.  Put it all on one card.  I use one specific credit card for all my vacation travel.  I pay it off after the trip, of course, but I like using one specific card so it's easy to identify how much I spent on a trip.  In the past I really had no clue how much a vacation cost me after the fact.  Now I just add the amount of cash withdrawn to the balance on my travel credit card and I know exactly how much it cost (and how to budget for future trips).

Do you make a budget for yourself when traveling?  Do you keep track of how much a trip costs you in total?  I like to keep track of it as it helps me budget for future trips, or helps me when people ask how much to budget for their trip to a region I've visited.

18 comments:

missris said...

Renting an apartment is the best tip ever! You usually get more amenities (like a kitchen, fridge, etc) and that can actually save you money. Plus we've found that when we go abroad, renting an apartment is far more affordable than staying in a big resort hotel, plus we love feeling more like locals (like you mentioned going to the market, etc). These are great tips!!

Marlys said...

For someone who loves to travel your ideas are commendable! If I ever become a traveler, I will use smoe of your ideas! Great plan!

Nora said...

Love renting apartments/houses. I've done that a few times for work trips and it's so nice to have a multi-room dwelling to reside in after a long day of work conferences. And it really is cheaper!

I'm really bad about keeping track of how much things cost me for trips but just last night Knight and I decided to sit down and decide on our trip(s) for next year so that we can start budgeting and planning accordingly!

Leigh said...

You are going to have so much fun in BC! :) I don't usually make myself a budget for trips, but am always aware of how much money I am spending over the trip. We are hoping to go to Europe next summer, so money is already being put aside for that :)

Abby said...

Great post! Budgeting while traveling is so smart, because there is nothing worse than feeling stressed out about money while on a vacation!

I agree with you on lodging. We always have such a better time when we rent a condo for the week or when we went to San Diego last rented a beach house. Got a great deal, and we didn't have to eat out every meal!

Do you usually stay in the same hotels when you travel for work? If so it's nice to use that line when you travel because of the points too.

Abby said...

Great post! Budgeting while traveling is so smart, because there is nothing worse than feeling stressed out about money while on a vacation!

I agree with you on lodging. We always have such a better time when we rent a condo for the week or when we went to San Diego last rented a beach house. Got a great deal, and we didn't have to eat out every meal!

Do you usually stay in the same hotels when you travel for work? If so it's nice to use that line when you travel because of the points too.

Melissa said...

These are all great tips! I'm so excited for your vacation- I've never been to BC and it's in own country, I can't believe it! I do hope to make it out there one day soon, especially with a good friend of mine moving there in just a few months.

Allison Blass said...

My mom and I rented an apartment when we stayed in Paris. Not only was it more affordable, but we felt more like we were "locals." It was really fun!

My only other tip is: ye not be afraid of hostels. I know sooo many people are like hell to the no, but I have stayed at three hostels through Hostels International and they are an amazing way to travel on the cheap. It's not like you spend that much time in your room, so as long as I have a bed and clean sheets, that's pretty much all I need. Especially since we're young, I think our bodies withstand a less-than-soft mattress better. And having all the money left over for experiences is so nice!

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

I AM SO EXCITED. I was just thinking how exactly three weeks from today I will be on my way down to Vancouver! Whoo!

I think these are really great tips! We have never really stayed in one place long enough on vacations to rent an apartment BUT when we go to Tofino this summer we rented a cabin that has a kitchenette in it which was very important to me so we could cook at least a few meals at home. Plus I think having the ability to make our own coffee and breakfast especially will make the trip even more relaxing!

With Europe we had a general budget (and ended up going a bit over) but I agree that I'm not great about really "budgeting" for trips. I do like to pay flights/hotels in advance too, though!

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I don't usually make a budget when travelling. I just spend what I have saved for the trip. I usually keep track of what I spend on food and shopping and entertainment just out of curiosity.

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

I pretty much echo everything you've said here. A condo/apartment is brilliant for travel - seriously, some of my fondest vacations are those I've spent in a rental apartment or with someone I know, because you really get a local's feel for the city that way!

Alli said...

My best tip for international travel is to always use your ATM card to get cash or to pay for things rather than exchange cash. You will always get the best exchange rate with your ATM.

I'm super jealous of your trip! Have a great time!

Stephany said...

I've had to get better at my budget to include room for vacationing. I haven't really done much traveling before but 2013 looks to be a busy travel year for me so I want to start saving now!

Renting an apartment is a great idea! It saves so much money in the long run since you're not eating out for every meal.

Amanda said...

I'm totally on the renting an apartment bandwagon. My friends and I did that for our 10 days in Nice and it was brilliant. I might still dream about my bed, ha! :)

Raquelita said...

These are all really great tips! I definitely second renting an apartment when possible. I usually try to stay in hostels or cheaper hotels if I can't stay in an apartment, though, because I usually don't spend much time in my hotel room when I'm on a vacation anyway.

Jamie and Missy said...

Enjoy your trip. I'll look forward to the recap!

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

Your trip to BC is going to be great. I've been a couple of times and have loved it! I think Vancouver is a great city (as is Seattle) and I also love that there are mountains too! I did a lot of hiking there and there are some beautiful places!

As for vacation budgeting, it sounds like you have a good handle on it. If my trip is shorter, I usually try to figure out a per day budget and then I do the same as you, I rent an apartment and use one CC so I can keep track of the expenses. If it's longer, I tally up my expenses every day, especially since I often travel to places where you have to use cash, so otherwise it's hard to remember where the money is going! I keep a daily log of what I spent. This also helps later when people ask (like you said) how much lodging or food or everything for a certain place was!

Jeanie said...

Absolutely excellent tips. I think if we were going back to Europe, we would do the apartment thing if we didn't have a spot to stay. These are spot-on!