Last minute trip budgeting tips
If you've read any of my other posts, you know that I'm taking a third international trip this year in October and that I'm going to Prague for a night, Malta for four nights, and Paris for two nights. Europe is not traditionally a cheap place to travel so I'm really watching my budget for this trip. I don't want to spend too much because I have a lot of expenses coming up including my sister's wedding right before the trip and Christmas a few months after. So I thought I'd put together a small list of how I've been budgeting for this last minute (sort of) trip.
- For hotels and lodging: Book early and pay in advance. I've been paying attention to every hotels.com deal I've received and finally jumped at the chance to stay at the Corinthia Hotel in Prague for $100. That was my splurge of the trip and it will be important for me to get a good night's sleep the first evening of my trip in order to adjust for the duration of my trip (let's hope). I have found that for me, personally, I adjust and sleep better when I travel in the fall. I am sure it has something to do with the hours of daylight. I also booked an Airbnb in Paris for $185 (two nights) and I have a whole apartment in the 10th arrondissement to myself. Finally, I am staying in a hostel in Malta. I thought that for a first time trip to a new place, I'd try it. I have not stayed in a hostel since I was 23 and I am a little nervous, but I am sure it is going to be a blast. I bet I'll make lifelong friends or at the very least, have some good stories.
- Grocery shop for some meals: This might sound really boring at first, but if you're staying in a vacation rental or a hotel with a mini-fridge, it is a great way to save some money. I've done this on every trip because breakfast is really important to me and for anyone traveling with me (or I'm a hangry grouch!). I find it best to have breakfast locations and times planned out in advance or to do some grocery shopping for breakfast items that I can eat before we/I head out for a day of exploring. I'm always impressed and amazed by the amount of yogurt I can buy when I'm in any European country (thought Icelandic skyr is my favorite) and I rely on that and fruit for most of my breakfasts abroad when I'm traveling solo. I've found that spending about $10-$15 on yogurt and fruit will last my entire trip of one week, and that is pretty cheap in comparison to eating breakfast at a cafe every morning. Sometimes the groceries I have bought even make a great late night snack if I am back in my room or apartment and am still hungry. I always buy one or two more than the number of mornings I have because I will inevitably eat them or leave it behind for the next Airbnb person.
- Make the big purchases and plan out ticket purchases in advance: I really like having a loose plan for how my days will go and buying any tickets in advance helps me with this if I'm trying to stick to a strict budget. I make sure I've paid for most of my accommodations, paid for museum tickets, and bought any transit passes (if I can) in advance. These are always the most expensive items on a trip and it is good to know that almost all of your money, once you're at your destination, is going to food, drink, and any fun. Planning and purchasing excursions and museum tickets in advance also guarantee you'll be able to do them, sometimes things sell out! Then you're stuck scrambling for other plans and probably spending more money to make the alternate plans happen. I also use the Google trips app to plan out meals/coffee/and drink stops near my agendas. If I am really looking to stick to a strict budget, then I even look at the menus in advance to get an idea of what meals will cost. I normally try to stick to $100 a day but I have a feeling I'll try to less for this trip. For me, I include the cost of food and any entry fees/tickets purchased each day as that $100 a day budget. I don't include already purchased or paid for transit passes or accommodations. That may seem like flawed budgeting to some but it is my choice.
- Don't be afraid to splurge on something: If you've saved on accommodations and budgeted carefully, you should not be afraid to splurge on one thing while you're there. Whether it is a restaurant, a piece of art or pottery, a clothing item, or an air travel upgrade - I'm not judging anyone's splurge, we all have our own luxuries. Just don't feel bad about whatever you choose as your own luxury.