5 Things you Always Forget on your Vacation Budget

A vacation budget is essential!

I know it's not much fun, but not having enough money for your vacation is worse! You don't want to be halfway through your vacation and realize you've under budgeted for all you want to do.

When planning your vacation budget you need to start with the obvious:

  • Lodging
  • Food
  • Transportation
money travel budget

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Once you've decided on your activities, you add those costs and any associated expenses. This is where Google is your best friend because you need to try to come up with any additional costs for a given activity.

Be sure to account for more than just the cost of admission or the price of an excursion.

Will you have to pay for parking?

If several of your planned activities require paid parking or don’t allow you to bring your own food, those expenses will add up quickly and can take a bite into a budget you thought you had nailed down.

While I've gotten pretty good at budgeting for our vacations and small trips, it always seems like there's something I miss -- something I should have added to the budget when planning the trip.

Over and over, this is what I’ve realized people -- myself included -- forget to to add to their vacation budget:


1. ) Dog/Cat Boarding

Did you realize this is really part of your vacation budget? If you weren’t traveling, you wouldn’t need to board the family pets, so be sure to factor in this cost at the very beginning of planning your trip, especially if you are taking an extended vacation.

2.) Parking Costs

I'm not just talking about theme parks where you have to pay for parking. Consider the cities or towns you’re planning to visit. If you have to pay to park everywhere you go - the cost of parking can really add up. But by making sure you’ve padded your budget for parking expenses, you’ll ensure you don’t have to dip into the all-important food budget.

3.) Tips

I'm not talking about gratuities on a cruise or at an all-inclusive resort. I'm not even talking about the tips you'll pay at a restaurant. For us, it seems like there's always a point in every trip where we need to pay unexpected tips, like the driver of a shuttle we take, or the porter at the airport or hotel. Be sure to always factor in a little extra cash for tips that you might not expect.

4.) New clothing/shoes

If you haven’t noticed already, we are a very budget-conscious family. And as such, we don't feel the need to buy very much to go on any vacation. We like to borrow things before we buy. But if you have children, you know that sometimes buying new stuff for vacation is unavoidable.

For example, if you're planning a summer trip and the kids need new sandals because their feet have grown so much, you will definitely need to buy them a pair of sandals -- and summer clothes, and a new bathing suit, and...well, you get the idea. There will likely always be something you have to buy, and clothing/shoes should be its own line item on your initial budget when you first start planning your vacation -- even if you have no clue what you might need. This can help you avoid the frustration of realizing you need to drop a surprise $100-$200 on something a month before your trip.

5.) That ONE extra activity

Even if you are the world's best vacation planner, there is always going to be that one activity you didn't even know existed but can’t live without doing. And it will probably be the best activity you can do with your family! Be sure to create a buffer for your entertainment line item on your vacation budget. You don't want to miss out on an awesome opportunity because there's no padding in your budget. You know when you are driving around, your kids will see something they just HAVE to do. Remember it’s their vacation too, and sometimes the spontaneous stops are the most memorable!

Emergency Fund: Vacation Budget MUST

Even when I think I’ve accounted for everything, on every vacation or trip, there’s always something that comes up we didn’t plan for. To combat this, I have a miscellaneous line in our budget that serves as our “emergency” fund for our vacation. These funds aren’t so much for medical emergencies, but more “oh we had no idea this would be an expense” type expenses.

There are so many things to consider when creating your vacation budget, but trying to expect the unexpected will help keep your budget on track. Each vacation is just as unique as the family enjoying it. Be sure to consider what is important to your family!

A vacation budget is an absolute necessity in my opinion.  By being thorough it makes your vacation even more enjoyable!  Planning on the front end is so much better than overspending and throwing off your entire vacation budget which will then affect your household budget.  Be sure to start every vacation planning with a budget and it will make a difference!

Happy vacation budgeting!


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