This blog post was updated on January 17, 2019.

Traveling can be a great way to visit new places, try new things, and immerse yourself in different cultures. However, traveling can also get pretty pricey if you don’t know how to create a budget. From expensive airline tickets to hotel reservations and dining out, you can quickly spend more than you originally planned. Because while that extra order of room service might seem important at the time, it can lead to regret come checkout. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid going overboard with expenses — and it’s more than just finding cheap flight deals (although that does help). 

If you’re tired of always going over budget when traveling, we’re here to help. We’ve identified 7 costly mistakes and how you can easily avoid them, and we’ll tell you all about how you can put together a simple travel budget as well.

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Being Too Touristy

When visiting a new city for the first time, playing the tourist can be a lot of fun. But because these tourist traps are so popular, they often jack up prices because they know tourists will pay $10 for bottled water. Likewise, try to avoid the restaurants most popular with tourists. For instance, you may want to visit Times Square during your first New York City trip, but you definitely don’t want to eat at a Times Square restaurant.

Instead, you should consider asking locals for recommendations. Not only will you save money by avoiding overpriced tourist traps, but you will get a more authentic travel experience. And you can expect these places to be less busy and crowded as well, which will allow for a more relaxed experience.

Not Booking in Advance

Booking flights, hotels, and excursions is the primary task when planning a trip. And while spontaneous trips are often the best kind, booking last-minute can lead to paying much more than you should have to. Because of this, it’s best to book your trip as far in advance as possible.

Booking ahead of time also gives you some leeway when it comes to changing plans. If you have to change a flight, book a different hotel room, or change an excursion, you’ll have more flexibility if you do it earlier on. If you try to change plans last minute, you’re probably going to get charged to make the change. This is also a great way to get more excited about your trip and have more time to prepare.

Start planning your affordable trip by checking out these cheap flight deals!

Forgetting About Airport Transportation

importance of a valid passport for traveling

What’s one of the biggest things you might forget when planning your trip? How you’re going to get from the airport to your destination. Don’t assume you can just get information on transportation once the plane lands and go from there. While this is sometimes true, failing to research airport transportation ahead of time can cost you a pretty penny. Depending on where your destination is, you may end up paying an insane amount for transportation because you didn’t book ahead of time. Additionally, you may find out the airport doesn’t offer information on this kind of transportation and you’ll be on your own to figure it out. This can be extremely stressful, especially if your destination isn’t close to the airport.

Failing to Invest in Insurance

Many travelers make the mistake of thinking they don’t need to purchase travel insurance. Unfortunately, this can ruin a trip if something goes wrong. Travel insurance is absolutely essential, whether you’re traveling for a month or two days. A good insurance policy will not only cover medical needs while you’re traveling, but also lost baggage or cancellations. Because of the importance of travel insurance, you should look into different policies and choose an option that covers everything you think is necessary. While insurance will cost you money up front, it will save you money if you run into a problem while you’re on your trip.

Getting Charged Baggage Fees

We all know someone who over-packs for every single trip. If that person is you, it’s okay, we’ve all been there. However, there’s no excuse for paying baggage fees if you don’t have to. If you can, always try to limit your baggage to a carry-on. Of course, this may not be possible for a month-long trip. Keep in mind that many airlines now have weight limits, so cramming 50 pounds worth of clothes into your carry-on might still result in extra fees.

RELATED: Using miles is one way to save on travel, but for those still on the fence here’s Everything You Need to Know about Booking Cheap Flights Using Cash versus Mileage!

Dismissing Alternative Lodging

Hotels are an easy, convenient option, and they often offer great amenities. Unfortunately, hotels are usually the most expensive lodging option. If you focus all of your travel research on hotels, you may miss out on a great option to save money. Alternative lodging options, like hostels and vacation rentals, are often less expensive than hotels and still offer a great experience. By considering any and all places to stay, you can save yourself a great deal of money. While it may be intimidating to not stay in a highly-rated hotel, alternative lodging is a great option for travelers looking to save some money.

make copies of all your documentation

Being Inflexible With Travel Dates

Do you have strict travel dates? While this may be necessary with work or school schedules, it can also prevent you from saving money. If you search for cheap flights or travel destinations, you can usually get a great deal — but you have to be flexible. There are days of the year that are more expensive for travel, like holidays, so avoiding these dates will help you save money. And if an airline overbooks a flight, they’ll sometimes offer money to travelers like you who are willing to depart on a different flight.

How to Create the Perfect Travel Budget – And Stick To It!

turn off international roaming and save cash

So now that you know what mistakes to avoid, it’s time to create your travel budget. Budgeting for a trip can be hard, especially when you try to account for emergencies. But to help get you started, here are a few things you should absolutely budget for.

  • Transportation and Lodging: Airfare, transportation, and lodging are going to be your biggest expenses, so start here when creating a travel budget. Research flights and hotels so you have a clear idea of how much to spend on this portion of the trip. Once you have a number, you can plan the rest of your budget around these expenses.
  • Food: Food and drink are probably going to be the second most expensive items for your trip. Unless you are staying somewhere that gives you access to a kitchen, which can be a great way to save some money, you’re most likely going to be eating out for every meal. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to know how much you’re going to spend on food, so you’ll have to estimate. By doing some research and figuring out approximate prices for food, you can set yourself a general budget for your meals.
  • Emergency expenses: Hopefully, everything goes according to plan on your trip. But accidents do happen, like getting sick or injured. If this happens, it’s important to have some extra money to pay for medical care or medications. Travel insurance will definitely help cover these expenses as well, but it’s always a good idea to have some extra wiggle room in your budget for unexpected expenses so your bank account doesn’t suffer horribly if you need to spend more than planned.

After setting your budget, it’s important to stick to it as best as you can. While it can be difficult to practice self control when you want to buy as much as possible to remember your trip by, you’ll be better off only spending what you planned on spending. One great way to keep track of your budget is to use smartphone apps. There are plenty of apps you can download that allow you to enter your planned budget as well as money you spend along the way. By doing this, you’ll have a nice visual that shows you how much of your budget you’ve spent (and how much you have left). Or, if you won’t have your phone with you, a good old pen and paper will do the trick, too. However you do it, it’s important to keep track of how much you’re spending each day so you can do your best to stay on budget.

If you avoid making these mistakes and make your budget well in advance, you can save a ton of money on your next trip. Yes, we all want to fly first class and eat at Michelin-rated restaurants one day, but first you need to learn to search out cheap flight deals and spend responsibly. Follow this advice to save yourself, and your bank account, some serious financial pain.

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