If you are planning a vacation, the first thing you need to do is set a budget, especially if you have a large family or money is generally tight in your household.
1. Spreadsheets and Templates
The basics of vacation budgeting can be calculated on a spreadsheet if you wish. It is useful for adding things up if you use the formulas on the spreadsheet.
Here is a handy spreadsheet already set up:
Download it, open it in Excel, make your calculations and keep it up to date.
https://www.template.net/business/budget-templates/travel-budget/ has several different templates to choose from in various formats.
2. Tools and Templates
Some sites will allow you to plug the numbers in online and keep a running total of what you are spending.
The page at http://www.budgetworksheets.org/worksheet/vacation-travel is useful because you can estimate, enter the actual cost, and calculate the difference on a range of vacation-related items.
There is a handy tool at http://www.independenttraveler.com/travel-budget-calculator that can help you calculate your budget.
The first tool is more detailed than the second, but both will give you an idea of what you need to calculate to start with so you will understand the basic cost of the trip. You can then start to add on the extras, food, drink, excursions and so on.
The most comprehensive is this great article at http://foodfuntravel.com/travel-budget-planner-calculator-free/ with its own spreadsheet. It covers a range of expense categories, including the cost of visas and vaccinations that might be needed if you go abroad.
3. Foreign Exchange Calculators and Traveler’s Checks
A good foreign exchange calculator is important if you are going overseas. While in many cases you don’t have to worry about changing your money beforehand because there are so many ATM machines around the world, the fees can all start to add up if you are not careful. There might be exchange fees, bank fees there, and bank fees from your own bank. It isn’t a good idea to carry too much cash either, for safety reasons. Traveler’s checks will usually only involve one set of fees and can be replaced if they are lost or stolen.
XE.com is the best site for calculating exchange rates. And here’s a useful site for making the best choices about how to pay for things overseas and keep your money safe:
There are a range of apps for tracking travel budgets. Some are better suited to vacations than business travel, and vice versa. The top three are:
Trail Wallet – Travel Budget and Expense Tracker (iOS App)
This is easy to use and helps you keep track of your daily budgeted amount. Input everything you spend and it does the rest. The downside is it has no categories – all the costs are lumped together, but its cartoons and comments about your shopping can be amusing.
Trabee Pocket – Travel Expense (Android and iOS App)
As with Trail Wallet, you set your destination and your currency, if any, to help you know exactly how much you are spending. You can classify by cash or credit card and break down the costs into categories, food, drink and so on. The paid version of this app also allows you to export your spending report into Excel or plain text, so it is very useful if you do a lot of business travel.
Concur (Android and iOS App)
This app is ideal for business travel and will let you upload expenses reports and download them as well to keep your company up to date with all your expenses. It can be used for budget family travel in categories if the other two options really don’t suit you.