Your First Vacation Budget

Posted on Jul 14th, 2015 | Budgeting, Home life, Savings

The great thing about traveling on your own or with friends is that you don’t have to worry about your parents calling the shots. When you go away without your folks, you won’t have to deal with mandatory sibling bonding or countless dorky family photo shoots along the way. Instead, you’ll be able to kick back, relax and stick to your own agenda.

On the other hand, there’s a major benefit to traveling with your parents: not having to pay. Vacationing on your own means covering all the costs involved, and if this is the first trip you’re funding without outside help, you’ll need to plan accordingly. Here’s what your first vacation budget should include:

Transportation
Will you be flying? Driving? Renting a car? Transportation may be your single biggest expense, so you’ll need to account for every aspect of getting around. If, for example, you’re flying to another city where you don’t need a car to see the sights, you’ll still need a way to get to and from the airport. And if you’re driving to your destination, you’ll need to budget for gas, tolls and parking fees.

Lodging
Whether you’ll be staying at a nice resort or an inexpensive motel, your lodging costs may not be limited to the nightly rate you’re quoted at booking. Most hotels charge for things like Internet and laundry service. Also keep in mind that it’s customary to tip hotel staff, especially housekeeping and bellhops, so include a line item in your budget for gratuities.

Entertainment and Activities
You’re not going on vacation just to sit around and do nothing. As you create your budget, think about the specific activities you want to do while you’re away. If you’re visiting a city, be sure to include things like museum visits and theater tickets. If your trip is more adventure-based, factor in the cost of activities like zip lining and river rafting. Even if you’re planning a beach vacation that’s purely relaxing in nature, you may incur fees for water sports or lounge chair rentals.

Food
Even if you stick to fast food and diners, the cost of eating while on vacation can be considerable. This especially holds true if you’re heading for a "foodie destination," where eating at local restaurants is an integral part of the experience.

Travel Insurance
Though you can technically do without it, travel insurance offers protection against unexpected hiccups, from flight delays to medical care while you’re away. Travel insurance typically costs about four to 10 percent of your prepaid expenses (such as flight and hotel) but can save you a considerable amount of money in the event of a missed connection or stolen luggage.

Stuff You’ll Need for Your Trip
You may need to stock up on supplies depending on the type of trip you’re taking. If you’ll be skiing for a week and don’t have heavy-duty gloves and a face mask, you’ll need to purchase some gear to avoid frostbite. Headed someplace tropical? You’ll need plenty of sunscreen, and perhaps some additional beachwear. And don’t forget to buy a suitcase that’s easy to maneuver. You don’t want to be lugging a beat-up duffel bag through airport security.

Souvenirs
You deserve a memento from your travels. Though small souvenirs like t-shirts and key chains aren’t particularly pricey, if you’re buying stuff to give out back home, the cost can really add up.

Planning and saving for your first parent-free vacation takes work. The reward? Getting to travel on your own terms and knowing that this time around, you really earned it.

Photo by Davejdoe via cc