How to Adult, Ep. 3: Plan your vacation spending carefully

It's easy not to overspend if you think ahead.

Morningstar Canada 20 April, 2017 | 5:00PM
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Sara Buckingham: This past November, I was fortunate enough to go on a month-long backpacking trip to Thailand. Before I left I was excited for what was sure to be a trip of a lifetime. But I also needed to ensure I budgeted properly. Here is how I did it.

First, I did my research. Many of my friends had already gone on similar trips. I asked them how much they spent in total and how much they paid for their meals and accommodations. That gave me a good idea of the kind of experience I could expect.

Second, I decided I wouldn't overspend on the basics. I stayed in hostels instead of hotels and I ate locally, which was cheaper. It's easy for travel to get quite expensive, but it's also easy to avoid it if you choose not to indulge too much.

Third, I ran the numbers. Since I'm still living at home right now, I didn't have to worry about eating into my housing budget, but I do have student loans to pay, so I couldn't go crazy. I decided how much I would be willing to spend in total. Then I used my banking app to figure out how long it would take to save that amount. After that, I set aside a portion of my paycheck every month until I had what I needed.

Finally, I kept track of everything I paid for, from flights to activities, accommodation, food and souvenirs. This also included what I bought before I left, including a good-quality backpack. I also needed to make room for emerging costs in case I got hurt or sick on my trip. It's a good idea to get travel insurance to help with emergencies.

That's what worked for me. Try it when you travel and you can have a great time at a reasonable cost.

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