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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Travel Plans + Budgets + Discipline

1

Good weather is upon us! At least here in NC it is, and I’ve been itching to take a break and get away from the day to day to enjoy some fun in the sun with the family.

We’ve got a lot of trips lined up throughout the remainder of the year and I have to be honest; I didn’t plan things out very well. I’ve just been going with the flow, agreeing to go here, there, and everywhere, as if time is endless and money grows on trees. The case is not true for either, you know.

As far as my household is concerned, this plan of action will definitely come in handy next year. But hopefully you can use it now. So let’s plan for travel season!

The Plan

Create categories for the kind of trips you’d like to take this year, and include how many of each you’d prefer to take. Further expand upon the category by including what types of trips you’d like to go on within each category, and include the month and year you’d like to go (arranging by month in ascending order).  For instance, my categories/types might look like the following:
  • Family Trip (3)
    • Biltmore House (April 15)
    • Beach Trip (June 15)
    • Beach Trip (July 15)
  • Dad-cation (1)
    • Birthday Celebration (May 15)
  • Friend-cation (1)
    • Girls Trip (May 15)
  • Mom-cation (1)
    • Visit Friend (Oct 15)

The Budget

Determine how much you can afford to spend on trips for the entire year. Next, divide that amount up depending upon how much is needed for each trip. As you begin to break down costs for each trip and tally up the total for the year, you may come to realize that you can’t afford to take as many trips or go on any elaborate trips, as initially thought (or vice versa).

Let’s say my trip budget for the year is $2400. Basically, the prior year I should be putting aside $200 per month (or tucking away my bonuses, or extra money I make, etc.) so that I can afford next year’s endeavors. You get my drift? Moving on.

Now, let’s break down each trip, playing with the numbers to determine how to make that amount work (and hopefully have money left over). Below, I’ve expanded upon the main things to consider.

Family Trip (3)
  • Biltmore House (NC – April 15)
  • Transportation Costs (i.e., car, gas, tickets, etc.) – $60
  • Hotel Costs – $90 (1 night)
  • Food Costs – $150
  • Shopping/ Entertainment/Misc. Expenses – $0
Total: $300

Beach Trip – Day Trip (NC – June 15)
  • Transportation Costs (i.e., car, gas, tickets, etc.) – $60
  • Hotel Costs – $0 
  • Food Costs – $50
  • Shopping/ Entertainment/Misc. Expenses – $50 (beach gear)
Total: $160

Beach Trip (NC – July 15)
  • Transportation Costs (i.e., car, gas, tickets, etc.) – $60
  • Hotel Costs – $150 (1 night)
  • Food Costs – $175
  • Shopping/ Entertainment/Misc. Expenses – $0
Total: $385

Dad-cation (1)
  • Birthday Celebration (NC – May 15)
  • Transportation Costs (i.e., car, gas, tickets, etc.) – $60
  • Hotel Costs – $0 
  • Food Costs – $150
  • Shopping/Entertainment/Misc. Expenses – $300
Total: $510

Friend-cation (1)
  • Girls Trip (NC – May 15)
  • Transportation Costs (i.e., car, gas, tickets, etc.) – $50
  • Hotel Costs – $150 (3 nights/split bill)
  • Food Costs – $100
  • Shopping/ Entertainment/Misc. Expenses – $100
Total: $400

Mom-cation (1)
  • Visit Friend (CA – Oct 15)
  • Transportation Costs (i.e., car, gas, tickets, etc.) – $300
  • Hotel Costs – $0
  • Food Costs – $200
  • Shopping/ Entertainment/Misc. Expenses – $200
Total: $500

Total (All Trips): $2255

As you can see, I’m within budget (i.e., < $2400). If I had been over, I could have either tried to add to my trip budget by cutting back on other things (within my overall household budget) throughout the year, or I could have cut back on how much I’d planned to spend for food and other expenses for a couple of the trips. The point is to set a budget and stick with it by breaking down your expenses on paper (in some form) so that you can clearly see where the money is/will be going.

Oftentimes, we think we can manage money in our heads. Sadly, we’re not as good at it as we might think. My husband and I are realizing that now; in regards to how much we spend eating out every month. Using mint.com in addition to our personal family budget spreadsheet has totally been an eye-opener for us. But, I digress.

I believe traveling and creating memories with your family and friends is very important, and something I don’t mind investing my time and money into. Doing so in a way that will allow us to reach all of our financial goals is vital; therefore, planning and budgeting is key. So start there, and pray for the discipline to stick to both!

The Worksheet

I've created a free worksheet to make all of the above less daunting.
Safe travels,

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43 comments

  1. So much for that great weather in NC, this rain and dropping temps are killing me. This is a great post. I travel alone a lot for this very reason. Friends who never have "extra money" I've been telling them for years, develop a travel budget so you're ready when the opportunity arises. Especially since I'm one to cash in on spontaneous last minute sales.

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    1. Yes, Jen, the weather has been so finicky lately. April showers bring May flowers, right?! I've been trying not to complain.

      And please don't get me started on people not having the money to travel. I have maybe two friends that can pick up and go spontaneously from a monetary perspective, so I understand exactly what you're saying. As we're getting older, I'm hoping that more of us will take the time to plan and budget so that we can live a fuller life (versus, all work, can't afford to play).

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  2. Great tips! That's smart to plan ahead financially.

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    1. Thanks, Mary, I totally agree! Now that I can see how much I'm spending on trips alone for the year, I'm more mindful of sticking to the food and misc. budget portion of the trip to keep costs low!

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  3. You will LOVE Asheville and the Biltmore! I've been several times so let me know if you want some suggestions :)

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    1. We DID Brittany! It was so very beautiful there, and fun for us all! It was our very first time and I actually can't wait to go again! I'll be writing a post about it in the near future since I can't contain my excitement about it, lol :)!

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  4. This is a great way to budget and plan ahead so there are no "surprises" later! Thanks for the printable and the tips!

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    1. Exactly, Hilda! It has truly been eye-opening for me to see how much money we're actually dishing out for trips alone.

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  5. Awesome! I'm leaving for NyC soon, so this will be so helpful :)

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    1. That's so great, Kate! I really wanted to travel to NYC this year for my 30th birthday, but I didn't plan it out well. So I chucked the idea verses trying to make my way on a crazy tight budget and not really get to enjoy myself. It's definitely in the plans for next year since I'm now putting plans and budgets in place way in advance. I hope you enjoy the printout and your upcoming trip. Be safe!

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  6. You're so good at planning everything out! SO many of my vacations are last minute and then I don't even get good prices on hotels/airfare. I need to be better about planning.

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    1. Thanks, Alanna, I don't always feel that way! I'm forcing myself to be more mindful this year so that we can do more with less!

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  7. Yes! I need this to motivate me to get us out and about this summer. It's incredible how much money we spend on things that aren't really important. If we just cut out the unnecessary stuff, we'd have much more money to travel. Definitely making some plans for the near future! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Yes, Theresa! Last year my daughter kept saying she wanted to go to the beach. Summer came and went and we never went (and you know we can get to the beach from here in 1.5 hrs). It was ridiculous and I felt horrible. I promised her we'd go this year and I've planned it all out to be certain of it. I pray you're able to make a plan, set a budget and do the same!

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  8. Can you plan my life for me? lol I always try to figure this out for my family but its so hard with me not working. Good post.

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    1. Haha! Don't let me post fool you, I don't always follow my own plan :)! But know that you can still stay on top of the finances even if you aren't working. This was still my responsibility when I took off work for 18 months. It's just a matter of having access to all of the accounts so that you know exactly what's coming in and going out so that you can budget accordingly!

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  9. Great printable! It is so super important to set a budget (and stick to it) when you are traveling. We just got back from a vacation and it is very easy to "fly off the wagon".

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    1. Thanks, Pellerini! I totally agree, planning, budgeting and having a bit of discipline is so important when traveling. I didn't realize how much we were spending on trips until I laid it all out. I'm now forced to keep an eye on how much we spend while we're actually out traveling since I've set limits for particular things.

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  10. Great post! We're currently planning a few big trips for our family over the next year and a half and this printable will be super helpful!!

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    1. That's so good to hear, Sara! I enjoyed creating this worksheet and I really do hope that it's useful for others. I didn't realize how much we'd be spending on trips alone until I laid this plan out on paper. It really forced me to think about where that money was coming from and whether we needed to spend as much on food or misc. items while traveling in an attempt to lower costs!

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  11. This is a great post. I approach trips totally differently. I don't exactly budget for trips, because I usually don't take many...I'm always ready to go when and if the opportunity arises...but I always watch my money! It's a daily task for me. People always joke on my for "balancing my checkbook" but when you have to write down what you spent your money on that day...and you have to watch that total dwindle down...you become very careful about how and what you spend your money on! For trips, the money comes from a different place...but it's the same process. Great worksheet!

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    1. Thanks, Mionna! It's neat to hear the different ways people go about living/planning their lives. It's so true that not one way works/fits for all. I've never thought to budget for trips myself until recently. I'd just pick up and go when asked and could usually afford it without thought. I still can do that, actually, and most of this year would have been like that if I hadn't laid this plan out. But, I'm realizing that with a family, mortgage, car payments, etc. I need to be more aware of where ALL of my money is going. I honestly didn't even realize how much I'd be spending on trips alone this year (i.e., ~$2400) until I added it all up. And that amount is significant to me.

      Nonetheless, I like the fact that you balance your checkbook. It's an odd thing for our age (people laugh at me when I say I still carry and write checks for certain things). So, I totally get it! So long as you have a handle of what's coming in and what's going out, so you can plan accordingly, then you're good to go!

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  12. I've always wanted to visit the Biltmore. Sounds like you've got a lot of great trips planned, and that has to help with your stress level a lot to have it all budgeted!

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    1. The Biltmore was absolutely lovely (and tiring :))!

      And yes, I feel so much more relaxed about upcoming trips knowing everything is all mapped out!

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  13. Love the download! Pinning it so I can add this to my planner! Great post.

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    1. Awesomesauce, Dana! I had fun creating it and I hope you're able to put it to good use! Happy travels!

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  14. Phew! It all adds up so much more quickly than expected, doesn't it?!?!?! Thanks for the printable!

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    1. It really does, Jill, so quickly! I hope you're able to make good use of the printable. I had so much fun creating it (and this post)!

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  15. Such a well laid down plan!
    I am in awe!

    http://www.distinguisheddiva.com/

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    1. Thanks, Adeola, I'm praying I can stick with it this year and moving forward!

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  16. Awesome post! I love Mint and budgeting is a must for anyone seeking to do anything constructive with their finances! Just an overall great and informative article!!

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    1. I totally agree! Budgeting is one of my least favorite things to do, but it shows in uncomfortable ways when I don't. I'm glad you like the post...thanks so much!

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  17. Wow you have a LOT going on but it all seems like fun. You have some wonderful ideas about trip budgeting, thanks for sharing them. #BLMgirls

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    1. Thanks, Demetra! I didn't realize how much I had planned (and specifically how much it would cost) until I laid it all out on paper! I'm looking forward to all I have planned, but now I know to be mindful of my spending habits to keep costs low during each trip.

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  18. Thank you so much for sharing these, I tried searching the web but they were too many options. I really like your worksheet.

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    1. Thanks, Pascha, I'm glad you found this post helpful. I hope you're able to put the worksheet to use!

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  19. Awesome budget worksheet and tips! I love how organized you are and how you broke down each vacation so well. Thanks for sharing!

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  20. I love how organized you are!! Your travel budget worksheet is amazing. Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Thanks, Meghan, it doesn't always feel that way. But I'm definitely getting better!

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  21. Now this is what I am talking about Nicole! This worksheet is simple and super easy to use. Thank you so much for sharing your tips and document. #BLMGirl

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    1. No problem at all, Rondra! I'm glad you like the worksheet and I hope you're able to put it to use :)!

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  22. It's really an amazing list. I read it and loved the way you explained each and everything about budgeting.I am planning san francisco sightseeing tour and was bit confused about budget but now I am ready for a trip in organized manner. Thanks for sharing!

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