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Whatever you’re planning on doing for your holiday this year – whether it’s sunbathing in the South of France or kayaking off the coast of Mexico – worrying about your holiday budget is the last thing you want to be thinking about instead of enjoying your trip. A budget can hang over us like a raincloud, especially during those precious times away when you’re more likely to overspend, but with a little extra planning, research and preparation, it doesn’t have to be such a burden.
Plan well in advance
The key to optimal holiday spending is planning and budgeting well in advance. When planning your trip, balance your calculated expenses based on your destination, transport, accommodation, living costs (food, drink) and what you’re going to do when you get there (fun activities and entry costs). When you’re planning, make sure that you don’t choose a destination that means you have to stretch your budget in all areas.
By saving up your pennies well before you’re due to leave, you’re more likely to have more money for ‘fun’ by the time it comes for you to go without having to cut into money dedicated for anything else. If you leave things until later, you might have to skimp and miss out on things you didn’t want to. You can increase this ‘fun’ portion of your budget and have more money for exciting activities by cutting other areas of your budget. For example, look around for deals on accommodation, transport or other amenities, as this can sometimes give you extra money to play around with.
After the bigger budgeted investments of transportation and accommodation, it’s sometimes easier to set a daily budgets for expected food, drink, activities and souvenir shopping costs. Use only that amount of cash each day and take your credit card with you in case of emergency expenditure such as taking a taxi to the hospital. Make sure you keep an eye on how much is left in the envelope as the day goes on to allow you to budget further, and have a spare 10% as a monetary cushion for emergencies or unexpected circumstances.
Don’t be over-generous
Whilst it can be tempting to bring home several things for your mum or friend because of the great deals abroad, it’s actually better for your budget if you make a list of people you want to buy gifts for along with a rough estimate of how much you want to spend on each person. If you hit a market or find a nice shop where you can find a few gifts for people, try and negotiate a discount for buying so many items. Shop with your budget in mind, don’t just pick up the cheap gifts that people wouldn’t really appreciate.
When buying souvenirs and gifts for yourself, it’s easy to pick up cheap and tacky things which we regret buying later. Make sure that when buying things for yourself or your home, you’ll actually display it and make use of it, rather than packing it away in a drawer. Think about what you can get whilst you’re out there, for example, if you can get a silk scarf relatively cheaply at your destination of choice and it costs three times as much at home, buy it when you’re on holiday. Photos are an inexpensive souvenir too, you can always buy photo frames when you’re back so take lots of photos and store some memories on your wall or on your shelves.
Eat like a local
Restaurants, cafes and street vendors in touristy areas are usually priced well above their value in order to make the most from their temporary visitors in such an exclusive location. For example, having a coffee right on Times Square would cost a significant amount more than one a couple of streets away because it’s specifically created with the purpose of being a tourist trap. If you can’t afford to spend extra amounts of money on what is essentially just a hot drink, snack, or lunch, ask the concierge, your travel operator or check online for cheaper alternatives. You can also save a lot on breakfast, lunch and snacks by shopping at local markets – which also allow you to experience the local culture at the same time.