First-Time Travelers: Here’s 9 Things To Think About When Setting Up Your Travel Budget

Traveling abroad for the first time is an exciting experience, but it can also be a costly one if you don’t know how or what to budget for, especially at a time when the cost of traveling has skyrocketed due to pent-up demand following the pandemic.

If you think that it will be cheaper to travel in and around the country this summer, you might want to double-check the figures first.

The painstaking cost of traveling

A breakdown of domestic travel costs, which included transportation, lodging, food, and other experiences can cost an individual close to $1,919 per week. For a couple of two people, that figure is even higher, typically costing them $3,838 per week.

Taking a trip in the country or even abroad has become expensive, even off the charts in some places with round-trip tickets now costing close to $2,000 per person.

Recent data showed that international airfare prices have gone through the roof as soaring demand and higher fuel costs drive up prices. A round-trip ticket to Europe is now 20% more expensive than it was in 2019, and almost 32% more than last year. Even places that were once considered affordable such as Asia have seen airfare prices jump by more than 60% since before the pandemic.

Pricey plane tickets aren’t the only thing that’s costing travelers more these days.

On average, hotel prices in popular destinations such as Europe have increased by 20% since before the pandemic. By late August last year, some figures indicated that hotel prices in the Caribbean, including those in Cancun, Mexico were averaging between $200 and $1,000 per night.

Then there’s the price of food and eating out, which we are well aware has become painstakingly expensive in more recent months. Hiring a car and filling up the tank has also gone up, never mind talking about using public transportation, or hailing a cab or Uber.

Across the board, it seems as if every aspect of traveling has gotten more and more expensive, leaving many to explore their options and consider alternative destinations that can give them more for their money.

The days of simply hopping on a plane, and jetting off now feel like something of the past, not because of pandemic-related issues, but due to economic and financial constraints that have hindered many people’s opportunity to set out on their international adventures.

Key tips for budgeting for your first trip

While it’s gotten a lot more expensive to travel these days, even around the country, setting up a budget is one of the most crucial parts of your trip, and it’s something you can’t avoid at all costs - literally.

As you start to save up your cash and build up an idea of where you want to go, you will need to take some time to adjust to the protocols of setting up a budget that covers your basic expenses and leaves a little extra to splurge on outings, gifts, and other things.

Consider the type of holiday you want to take

It’s one thing to plan if you’re not yet sure what type of holiday you want to take. Taking an international holiday is more than simply flying out to a foreign city, booking your hotel, and exploring the nearby surroundings.

Today, there are countless options at your disposal. From wellness getaways at exotic retreats to exploring ancient cities with a group of other internationals, or even Couchsurfing, there are so many different options to choose from.

Although there are more conventional options, such as all-inclusive stays, or maybe an exhilarating camping adventure in the mountains, whatever your needs in terms of your getaway, make sure you have an idea of the different types of trips you can take, and how long you plan on being there.

Start with the basics

As you start planning your budget and trip, start with the basics, which include your destination and how you will be getting there.

If you can establish beforehand where you are going, and the mode of transportation you’ll be using to get there, then you already have a clear indication of how much you should be saving.

If the idea is to spend a couple of weeks traversing through Europe, then you’ll need to start looking at all the cities you’ll be stopping over at, and what the typical costs of basic things such as lodging and food may be.

Perhaps your first getaway is to Asia or Africa, where prices might be substantially lower, but the tickets getting there from your departing destination may be a lot more expensive.

Whatever the destination, be sure that you have a clear idea of what it will cost you to get there, and how much things will cost you while you’re there. Luckily we have a plethora of services, platforms, and apps all available to us these days, so you can do a bit of research to get a solid idea of what you can expect to pay for flights and basic things.

Plan your accommodation beforehand

Online booking platforms and mobile apps have made it increasingly easy for us to find suitable accommodation, regardless of where we might be.

Although this has made the planning process a lot more convenient, and helped streamline the holiday experience, booking your accommodation beforehand saves you both time and money.

Moreso, knowing that you have a place to go once you arrive will also give you added peace of mind. Instead of getting to a destination, tired and worn-out from your commute, and not sure where to go can add a lot of stress.

Another thing to consider is whether there will be accommodation available for your chosen dates. While there may be plentiful options available before you get there, it’s not to say that the same will happen once you get there.

Get a good idea of where you want to stay, and what the average price of a hotel room might be, or whether a hostel might be slightly cheaper if you don’t mind sharing your space with other people.

In the end, as you compile your budget, and set money aside for lodging, you can start pre-booking or reserving rooms to help make the experience more enjoyable.

Budget for getting around

Often first-time travelers forget to include the cost of public and local transportation costs in their budget, and this can result in you spending more money than what you initially bargained for.

Cities with a working public transportation network will typically have day tickets available, which can give you access to trains, metros, trams, and buses or ferries. Other places may have bundle tickets or public transportation cards that can give you unlimited access to these transportation options for a once-off fee.

You will need to budget how much you’re looking to spend on transport to and from the airport as well. Additionally, you will need to think of what you can spend on taxis and e-hailing services in the city.

Moving between different cities, which requires you to take a domestic bus or train can also cost you a few dollars, so have a look at what ticket prices may cost, and set up an average for each.

If you know that you’re going to travel between cities, or countries, check availability for your dates beforehand, and give yourself a bit of legroom, in case you end up having to buy a ticket either a few days before or at the local ticket office.

Wining and dining like the locals

From flights, hotels, and taxis, now it’s time to think about how much you’re willing to spend on food while on holiday.

Often restaurants, bars, and cafés in more populous cities that experience high volumes of tourists during peak seasons will cost you a lot more than eating at a smaller establishment on the outskirts of the city.

To make things easier for yourself, consider the average you might spend in a local restaurant at home, and see whether you can get the same or something similar in a foreign country.

In some instances, you will notice that smaller establishments, in lesser-known areas, will serve meals at affordable prices, although you might not be in the center of everything, you will be able to get more for your money while traveling.

Something else you can consider is cooking your meals at your accommodation. If your lodging has the necessary facilities, and allows patrons to bring food and prepare it themselves, see whether you can make use of this than dining out.

You can also save a bit of money by buying food from street vendors, which can be a lot cheaper than having a full-service sit-down meal in a restaurant.

The better you understand the local cuisine and how people spend their money on food and other consumables, the more you’ll get value for your money throughout your trip.

Budget for experiences

You should allocate a sizable portion of your budget to experiences, which will generally include costs such as visiting museums, and galleries, or even going to a show or attending a theater production.

Whatever it is you set out to do at your destination, make sure you have money to splurge on experiences. Give yourself some time to accustom yourself to what there is to do. There may be dozens of things you want to do, but sometimes your budget might not be flexible enough to cover all these costs.

This is why you should do a bit of research, and see what the major attractions you want to visit are, how much it will cost you, and what options seem better than others.

If you are in a position where you can afford more than several experiences, check the availability, and whether you can get tickets in advance than buying them on the day to save a few extra dollars.

Don’t let money be a chain around your ankles when you are abroad, and have enough cash for everything you want to do and see.

Think of additional service costs

Don’t forget to budget for other services you may be using while abroad. This can include things such as travel insurance, medical aid, or baggage insurance.

Perhaps you want to take out additional ticket insurance in case you miss your flight or it gets canceled. Maybe you think about hiring a car while abroad, but it requires you to pay for insurance, or there are additional taxes for foreigners that need to be paid upfront.

Another thing people don’t consider is tipping in restaurants, bars, and hotels. Although this may not be a custom in every city or country, in some places it may be considered rude when you don’t leave a few dollars extra for service charges.

Buying souvenirs and gifts

There’s no harm in buying a small souvenir from yourself that you can bring home. There are plenty of things you can buy abroad as a memento, so instead of going around and dropping cash on just about anything you see, consider a few valuable pieces you can buy and keep as a souvenir instead.

A good recommendation is to research the items or goods a specific place is known for, whether it’s clothing or maybe hand-made sandals. Saving up for these purchases can often be a lot more enjoyable than buying a fridge magnet or snow globe.

Rather spend your money on high-quality and genuine products, than buy items you can get at any souvenir shop. The better you know what you want to buy, the easier it will be to allocate enough money for these purchases.

Costs before you leave

Finally, as part of your budget, be sure to give yourself some legroom that includes a bit of money to spend on things before you leave.

Having to buy luggage or a new suitcase, cash for an airport taxi, or even for medical checkups and medication will need to be budgeted for.

Instead of having to pay for these things with your travel budget, be sure to set aside some money that will cover these costs before leaving.

Final thoughts

There’s a lot of financial planning that needs to be taken into consideration before you can simply jet off. While budgeting may seem like an arduous activity, having a good idea of how much money you need will help you set realistic savings goals and keep you on track with your spending, even before you have left the country.


Good Morning thank you for posting this really helps

These are wonderful tips and advice @pierre! It sounds like you are a very worldy traveler. We have never been to Europe, Asia, etc, only countries contiguous with the USA. But my daughter travels all over the world for her work and pleasure and has shared some of the aggravations of her travels and wonder if you’d share some tips regarding things to be aware of, in addition to budgeting. For instance, she says Heathrow airport in London is difficult to navigate so always books any connecting flights with a few hours in between. She also says most international flights right now are almost always late departing, hence the reason for longer times between connections…Heathrow is a major connecting route for many places overseas. The same is true about the Tube in London, the maps are very confusing to travelers not familiar with them and though employees there seem very helpful they underestimate to confusion for newbies so explanations are a bit underwhelming. Also, the pace in many European countries produces a lot slower lifestyle, so it appears as a lack of attention, when in reality it’s just that were are spoiled here! Do you have any comments on what to be aware of that you can share, maybe an additional post?

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