I must be honest: I am one of those nerd people that enjoy estimating travel cost, looking for the country’s expense, playing around with excel and numbers comparing prices. Do you want to estimate your travel cost as well? Download my excel travel budget calculator and follow 7 easy steps to plan your next trip!
My first travel to Asia taught me that the total travel cost doesn’t necessarily depend on the destination’s distance; for example, I spent less for 3 weeks in Thailand than for 2 in Italy, even if I live in Europe and the short flight was cheap.
This learning virtually opened the doors to the whole world!
Whatever your travel budget is, knowing in advance how much you are going to spend for your trip allows you to:
- Compare different destinations and length of the travel, achieving virtually your dream holidays.
- Choose the best hotel that fits your pocket: why always looking for one category, when you could afford a superior experience?
- Compare different transportations’ options in terms of cost, time and benefits: should you rent a car or take public transport?
- For low budget travelers (oh, my student time!): avoid the risk to be without money in the middle of the trip!
Your travel budget in 7 easy steps
STEP 1. Travel Details
Download and open the Excel Travel Budget Calculator file and enter your travel details:
- The number of travelers – useful to split expense, for example, a hotel room;
- The number of nights – all the quantities are calculated automatically based on the number of nights. When you update the travel length, you can see how the total cost changes accordingly.
- Your currency.
In this post, I will plan a 2 weeks trip in Costa Rica, so I can show you the process step by step. Let’s start!
STEP 2. Flight – price/item
The flight(s) cost usually impact dramatically on a travel budget, especially for exotic destinations. However, there are several hacks to find the cheapest flight possible.
In case your destination and dates are not flexible, then I would recommend you to simply use a flight search engine, like Skyscanner or Kayak, to find the best available deals. Select your departure, destination and travel period and click on Search flights to get the flight options sort by cost.
Cheapest flights are often not the most convenient, however, you can narrow down the results adding filters like stops’ number, the departure times or the total hours.
➣Read also: How To Get Cheap Flights With 8 Hacks
Note that the displayed price is for one traveler only, regardless of your search. In case you plan extra internal flights, follow the same procedure and add extra expense to the excel template.
Traveling by car, train, boat, etc? Skip step 1!
For my Costa Rica plan, I have simply added the cost of 655Eur for the international flight to the Excel travel budget template, selecting Flight as a category, a brief description and the cost – the quantity is calculated automatically based on the category and the number of nights, if applicable.
STEP 3. Accommodation – average price/night or price/booking
Accommodation is an entire world, with infinite options, experiences and costs. If your travel budget is only an initial draft, then limit your research time using Google!
a) Fast plan. Google the city name and check straight away the average price of a 3 or 5-star hotel, for today night! Easy, right? If the accommodation category doesn’t suit you or you expect a different price for your travel’s season, just click on the hotel icon and customize your search.
b) Accurate plan. If you have decided your itinerary with specific dates and locations, then compare hotel/apartments prices with Trivago or Kayak. They are both search engines, useful to scan the main online travel agencies and to find the best available rates.
➣ Read also: Your Ultimate Guide to Booking Hotels Online
For my travel cost example, I will consider an average of 60 Eur/night per room (by the way: it is what we spent for our trip to Costa Rica, for double rooms with private bathroom, breakfast included). Select the category Accommodation/night and add the cost, split among the couple.
STEP 4. Food/drinks – average cost/person per day
Food is deeply connected to the art of traveling, involving curiosity, discovery and trust. Think everything between cooking at home, to street food, to a low-medium range restaurant to a 4 star Michelin meal.
Let’s consider a cheap lunch and a mid-range restaurant per dinner: we reach 20,00 Eur/per person per day. Note that this is what Budgetyourtrip considered as daily cost per food and drink! Add the expense in the excel travel cost template:
STEP 5. Transportation – per item or per day
Not sure how to reach one destination from one point and the cost? Rome2rio is the solution!
It is a user-friendly tool that includes different type of transport (car, train, bus, ferry and plane): a few clicks and you know time and price for each available option.
Use Rentalcars to estimate the cost for a car, but don’t forget to add the gas, highway and additional insurance, if not included in the offer – check fuel cost with rome2rio.
For an average daily cost for transportation, have a look at Budgetyourtrip.
STEP 6. Sightseeing/tours/experiences – per item or avg price/day
Sightseeing and experiences make a travel special and unique. Could you visit Costa Rica without trying zip line or exploring the stunning national parks? Of course no!
Tripadvisor is a classic source of tours, ideal for a budget draft. Check also for local travel agencies to compare offers.
STEP 7. Pre-travel expense – per item
I often tend to exclude all the pre-travel expense, while I am focused on the trip itself. It is a big mistake, because forgetting to apply for Visa or for a travel insurance, can literally ruin your travel or at least underestimate your travel cost!
Visa is annoying, time-consuming and quite expensive in certain cases.
Based on your nationality and your destination, check if are required to apply for a visa before traveling or pay for an exit fee. Find more info in the government websites or simply enter your passport’s country in Passport Index website.
Your travel budget is complete! Verify the total cost per person and the breakdown per category.
Is the travel over budget? Try to reduce the number of nights, consider cheaper alternatives or hunt better deals on the web! For example, last year I found our flight to San Jose’ for less than 400 Eur, that reduced sensibly the total travel cost.
Have you tried out my Excel Travel Budget Calculator? Do you have any ideas to improve it, any features you were looking for? Leave me a comment below!