travel

Whether real or imagined, overspending can sabotage your travel budget. Though life happens, it can’t hurt to prepare a bit to avoid spending needlessly on travel.

Here are some tips to avoid busting your travel budget for your next trip.

1. Factor in all costs and then some

You might have a mental estimate of how much you’ll spend on an upcoming trip for business or pleasure. You add up the airfare, price of transportation, include accommodations and potential food costs in your mind to start.

There are often the hidden costs of travel preparation that we forget. Use a travel budget and record all of the anticipated expenses.

Though unexpected expenses may still arise, you can at least have a more accurate idea of what the trip will cost. BudgetWorksheets.org has a free online a travel/vacation budget planner where you can do just that. Use it to figure out the real cost of your travels.

Business Checklist

2. Print out a customized checklist to plan your spending

We are only partially to blame for potentially going over budget for travel due to a lack of preparation. Sometimes life happens.

There’s only so much you can plan. There are certain things you don’t always know in advance. Maybe you pull out last season’s dress clothes, and they don’t fit anymore.

Or, perhaps you realize that your carry on bag has a tear in it. Other times it can be for things you don’t have any control over like the weather or a flight cancellation. No matter the case, there are costs associated with changes to the plan or unexpected occurrences. Some travel preparation can combat that.

It can’t hurt to get ready as best you can with a checklist. The earlier you look at the list, the easier it will be to pick up items you need at a decent price. Planning with adequate time can potentially minimize costs.

Up until now, I had a few go-to checklists I would turn to when heading out for a trip. I keep one in a plastic sleeve in my luggage so I can find it whenever I need it.

Though I still reference these checklists from time to time, I found a fantastic site to help anyone travel to any location. It customizes your checklist after answering some basic questions. It’s called TravelsChecklist.com.

It tailors the list around a series of questions based on where you’re going, who is going, the weather of the location, activities planned, duration of time you’ll spend and where you plan to stay.

Once you answer those questions, not only will it generate a list of appropriate things to pack, it also helps you with travel and home preparation. It provides tasks you should do before you leave.

This type of checklist helps you plan financially both directly and indirectly. It will remind you to pay your bills as well as take care of perishable items in your fridge before you head out. These are important tasks you might forget to do before you leave so it nice to have a reminder embedded into the checklist.

Who wants to buy groceries only to throw them away because you have to take off? You’ll also have to replace what you threw out once you get home.

No more coming home to spoiled milk or smelly trash you forgot to put out after a long trip. You can include these tasks on your list to take care of this in advance.

3. Steer clear of buying trial size items

While you’ll need to stock up on bottles that pass go with the airlines, get ones you can reuse over and over. You can refill them with the products you use from home such as shampoo, conditioner, etc. You can also “refuel” as soon as you get back from your trip. This way, they will be ready for you the next time you go away. If you’re pressed for time and forced to get the small pricey bottles, promise to reuse them for future trips.

The Bottom Line

Use the tips mentioned to plan your trip and avoid spending unnecessarily. Mapping out anticipated spending ahead of time along with the cost is better than going into the travel plans financially blind. Also, hold on to your receipts and see what travel expenses you can write off.

Karen is a Nationally Syndicated Personal Finance Writer who sharpens her skills at US News Money. You can also find her placing clients on podcasts and reading about home office organization, productivity and habits.

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