A simple 6 steps process to budgeting intelligently your trip and change the way you travel forever

A simple 6 steps process to budgeting intelligently your trip and change the way you travel forever

Ah the joy of travelling, the feeling of pure freedom when discovering a new place, you love it right? Freedom is a big word yet if this is what you seek when travelling, learning to budget intelligently upfront can change your travel experience forever.

Imagine, no more figuring out about knowing if you have enough money for such and such activities or on what to do once there. Everything is already set up in one system. Neat. Peace of mind. The only thing you have to do is to enjoy fully your experience.

Freedom is one of my key value in life. I’ve understood over the years that in order to be free I have to take 100% responsibility for everything in my life. This means to first, getting clear on what I want and then, through the practice of daily disciplines, to create it. I believe that budgeting upfront before any trip is part of the deal.

I’m sharing with you my strategy that has been strongly inspired by my friend Alex Castrillón and her husband, owners of the blog viajaliviano.com. They have travelled around the world several times and as you can reckon, have developed some great expertise in the topic of travel budgeting.

So are you ready? Grab a pen and paper and let’s dig into it!


The first step is to categorize your expenses.
Alex and her husband use these ones and I agree with them I find them quite logical and easy to use.

Travel expenses categories:
Air transportation
Visas (you can skip this one depending on if you’re travelling in another country or not.)
Local transportation
Others (travel insurance, phone, laundry (for long trips).)


Basically what you’re doing here is creating your trip, making it real. What would you like to do, what is your objective during this trip?
Being crystal clear on your end result will give some direction and structure to your research.

For example, I’m planning to go to British Colombia in a few months for about 1 week. My goal during this trip is to visit Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

Here is my « why » for this trip: I want to visit British Colombia because…

  • I’ve always dreamed of visiting Vancouver. It seems like a magical city surrounded by mountains, sea and splendid nature.
  • I’m kind of attracted by the American west right now, big and wild landscapes, laid back mentality, green culture. I want to experience it!
  • I want to discover the gastronomy and the drinks (beers, wine and spirits) and make my own opinion about them.
  • I want to know the city of Vancouver and its parks, beaches and to go to their Jazz festival.
  • I want to surf and hike on Vancouver Island.
  • I want to learn about the culture and the origins of this part of Canada.


I find that starting broadly at the beginning is very helpful. I mean by that having a general idea of what you can experience there.

To my opinion, using only a few resources at the beginning is much more efficient than getting lost on trying to read it all at once. Also, I find that having done the exercise of getting clear on the reason why I would like to visit a place save me a lot of time when researching because my mind just knows what to look for.

Depending on how much information I already have, I give myself 1 day to a week to do my research, allocating for example 1 hour of focused reading each day.

I use Evernote to write down the activities I would like to do once there sorted by categories and use *** to indicate my preferences/priorities.

My favourite resources are:

  • Lonely Planet Guides
  • Regional Websites
  • Maps
  • Friends or acquaintances that have been there

For example, after researching, in Vancouver I’m interested in:

Festivals and activities:
Participating to the Vancouver International Jazz Festival*** and the Car free day festival.
Forbidden Vancouver – informative walk downtown on the prohibition period**.
Biking around the city**.
Tasting seafood, locals wines and some cocktails***.


Downtown & West end
– Stanley Park and Cost Lagoon***
– English Bay beach***

Yaletown & Granville Island
– Granville Island public market (June sept – alfresco farmers market).***

Kitsilano & University of BC
– Kitsilano beach*

North Shore
– Grouse mountain**
– Lynn Canyon Park**


Then I create my itinerary based on the information I gathered and the length of time I will have for this trip.

I make sure that everything is in line with the reason why I want to visit this place. Doing this really helps me to make my choices more quickly.

I also like to leave some blank spaces of free time as I want to be open to new opportunities that can show up during my stay.


You are now ready to budget your trip. First, get clear on how much money you have saved for this trip as it will help you in choosing which kind of lodging and activities you will do.

Using Budget Your Trip website can be very helpful to give you an idea of the cost of living there.

First, start with the « big rocks »:

Start with the main Transportation fare that will get you to your main destination point. In my case, it’s the trip from Montreal to Vancouver.

Then, look for lodging. For instance, as I will be travelling by myself and on a low budget, I will choose primarily hostels as they are least expensive, allow me to connect with others travellers and to cook my own meals.

You will then add the cost for meals, activities and others.

Creating your budget help you consolidating your itinerary, making it really real.

Here is a snapshot of my budget


During your trip, you can update your budget daily to make sure you are on track. You can update it on your computer every evening or you can use an app on your phone.

I like using YNAB on my phone. This app allows me to add my expenses on the go while making sure that I’m on track. This works well for me. Find the practice that works best for you.


Do you usually budget and plan upfront before travelling or is this practice new to you?

Will you use this strategy or shift a practice that you have been doing before reading this article?

Let us know by sharing in the comments section below.

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