When planning a project, there are three dimensions you need to consider: scope, time, and budget. The previous articles were about the scope and time. This one is about the budget. One of the aims of doing a travel budget is to check if you have enough money and, if not, how you can adjust your plans.
Starting with the tickets to and from the chosen destination, you should compare different means of transport (airplane, train, bus, ship). An airplane ticket can be cheaper than a train ticket, for example. However, you should pay attention to the details. For example, to low cost air tickets usually you need to add extra costs like airport taxes, extra luggage fares, and seat reservations. Besides, these tickets don’t usually include food and drinks on board (so, you have to pay them if you want to consume them). Regarding train and bus tickets you also need to check for extra costs like seat reservations (it depends on the type of train, for example). If you choose an inter-rail ticket, be aware of extra costs too, like seat reservations. Also, consider travel by night to save accommodation expenses. For example, if your flight is at 5am, you may not need to spend that night at the hotel – you can sleep at the airport (many people do this), but it depends on your acceptable level of comfort.
For checking transport costs at your destination, go to the official websites. Besides single tickets, companies usually have 1-3 days tickets that give you unlimited travels in one or more means of public transportation. City cards are also very useful because they usually include access to public transportation and entrances to museums and other activities (full price or discounts). They may also include discounts in restaurants and bars.
Accommodation and meals
When looking for hotels, pay attention to the options included in the price of each bedroom (like breakfast, shampoo and shower gel, parking, for example). Some of these options are available as an extra cost. Also check if they have options like all-inclusive (includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and food and drinks outside meals), full-board (includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner), and half-board (includes breakfast + lunch or dinner). Be aware than in some resorts and cruises food is included, but not the drinks. Also, food and drinks in the bedroom (in the mini-bar, for example) may or may not be included in the price – check which ones are.
Estimations of lunches and dinners is difficult because restaurants have different prices, of course. To get an idea, you can go to tourism websites and check the websites of recommended restaurants, where you may check the menus and the prices. You can also google it like “average meal in [destination]”. Calculate an average price per meal and multiply it by the number of meals. Remember that you can always go to supermarkets to buy snacks and water bottles (it’s usually cheaper than in restaurants).
These expenses are related with the activities you chose to do (read the previous article about the scope). It may help you prioritise them if you take cost under consideration. Also check activities that are free of charge. For example, the most famous museums in London are free. In some cases, entrances are free only one day per week – find out which day and organise your visit accordingly. Also check options – for example, boat tours may or may not include a meal (the cost is different, but it may be worth it), museums can have guided tours (it’s more expensive, but you get to understand it a little better).
Then, you should estimate a sum for “recreational” expenses like night life, theatres, or simply having a piece of cake by the sea. Shopping and souvenirs should also have a place in the budget. Finally, remember that unexpected expenses may arise (and they always do).
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