Dreaming about a spectacular holiday, somewhere far off is an ultimate mood setter. Fantasizing about all the romantic destinations in the world (alright, even the local destinations may do for some of us), or playing with the idea of having some wild adventure up in the clouds or deep in the seas; the mere notion of a vacation can be a turn on!
But what can seriously dent the mood is the dreaded word – ‘Budget’! While the more fortunate of us can simply hop on a plane, any chance they get and can have their dream holiday in a blink; most of us have to plan a holiday with meticulous care and have to keep a sharp eye on our resources (which are more often than not, limited).
This has in turn led to the emergence of the concept of ‘Budget Holidays’. When the world can offer most of its pleasures for a small price, a prudent traveler should always be ready to take the advantage of this fact. There are few simple steps that can help any traveler to plan a smart budget holiday and still enjoy the most.
Step 1 – Know Your Budget
First and foremost, a holiday plan must begin by determining the budget for the same. There are different aspects of a holiday which will employ financial resources, such as – accommodation, travel, food, shopping, gifts, fun activities, etc. A smart planner must bear all this in mind and come up with a budget that can include all these activities.
There are two approaches of determining a budget – know what you want to do and allocate money to each activity accordingly, forming the final budget, or know the exact amount you are willing to spend and distribute it amongst the necessary activities, finalizing the budget. It is also important to keep the inflation and exchange rates in mind when you are planning the budget for an international holiday.
Step 2 – Maintain a Buffer (Around Your Budget)
As important as it is to finalize a budget, it is equally important to have a buffer. This could be treated as the emergency fund, indulgence money, or extra money for some spontaneous activity during your holiday. Ordinarily, it is advisable to maintain a 10-20% buffer of your total holiday budget.
Step 3 – Set Priorities for Your Holiday
Once you are aware of your resources, it is prudent to decide the allocation of these resources. This must include the setting of priorities, as a holiday destination can have many things to offer but when you are on a budget, you must know what your must-do activities are. For instance, if the mood of the holiday has to be ‘adventure’, then top priority activities will be adventurous in nature and not expensive lunches or spa treatments. Similarly, if you are visiting a place, which is a fashion capital or something of the sorts, then your priority list may include spending more on shopping and less on hiking!
Step 4 – Beware of the Plastic Money Spending
Plastic money may have made things much easier for travelers, but it has also increased the overall spending dramatically. When you are actually not shelling out those banknotes, it is hard to keep track of the money you are spending.
Therefore, it is crucial to keep a track of your credit card/ debit card/ American express spending. Remembering that this money is also part of the budget can always help you to curb the urge to flash the card.
Step 5 – Careful Packing can Save You Many Bucks
An intelligent budget holiday planning begins at one’s home. Packing all the items that are travel necessities can save you a lot of trouble and that extra money that you may end up spending to buy stuff like toothbrush! Also, keeping in mind the weather of your holiday destination and packing your clothes accordingly is a smart step. It not only saves one some money, but helps avoid inconvenience too.
Step 6 – Save Money Over Internet
Internet is a boon for the budget traveler. You can find travel deals, budget hotels, cheap airplane tickets, etc. on the Internet with just few clicks. All you have to do is type in your destination in any search engine and travel agencies will pounce on the opportunity to serve you with some really delightful holiday deals.
Step 7 – Save Money with Research
You may not have to rely on travel packages to save money only. Even if you are planning your holiday on your own, a little research about the destination of your choice can come in really handy. Try to learn the important landmarks, major tourist hotspots, travel and accommodation options and shopping zones of your holiday destination. This way you can save time, money and effort.
Step 8 – Have a Travel Plan
While some of us enjoy being spontaneous when it comes to holidays and traveling, being on a budget suggests that planning ahead can be a better option. Preparing a vague itinerary can help you optimize your time and utilization of your money. You can determine the time to spend outdoors and indoors smartly and have a good mix of adventure and relaxation on your much needed holiday. Of course, care must be taken that the fun quotient must not go down with excessive planning. The buffer money is there for a purpose so you must indulge a little too!
Step 9 – Plan Your Shopping
Shopping is a major activity of any holiday and must not be taken lightly. This could land up being the most expensive part of your entire holiday. Thus a shopping budget must be planned separately so that in addition to visiting all the important places and doing all the worthwhile stuff, you get to shop too.
Step 10 – Plan Your Gifts
Lastly, buying gifts and souvenirs for your loved ones back home can be a tricky situation when you have exhausted all your travel money. Therefore, keep some portion of your budget for gift purchase as well. You may save from it and spend it on anything else later, but the provision must be there.
After all, everything that is valuable doesn’t come with a price tag; but what does come with a price tag, why not buy it with smart budgeting? So plan smart and enjoy your budget holiday.