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Mike Brain’s guest posting again from Financial Facts, a website dedicated to giving you information for facts and advice on all things financial. I thought it would be nice to include a post about holidays, since our Victoria Day is coming up (hurrah for long weekends!). I also thought I would share with you (in light of holidays) a photo I took on the plane going back into Nepal (I was flying in from Bhutan). What you are seeing is Mt Everest! Isn’t it beautiful? Seeing Mt Everest was one of the things to do on my never-ending bucket list. Next up is Kilimanjaro in Africa (hopefully)!

There are several ways you can budget for a holiday; however this article will concentrate on only 5 which are essential for that great holiday without the added financial burden of having to pay off a rather substantial credit card bill after.

Plan for food

This seems like it’d be non-important and you wouldn’t have to budget for your food, however, you’d be wrong. It’s surprising how fast a burger here and there can add up. So budget for your daily food intake while you’re on your holiday. This way, you won’t be caught wondering how you spent so much money in a short amount of time.

Plan for Fuel

This is going to be a big one – especially considering fuel prices are constantly rising and it seems unlikely that they’ll go down any time soon. Try to calculate how much fuel it’ll take for you to do whatever you want to do, then add up that price. Afterwards, add an extra 50 or so just in case. Maybe use a cashback rewards credit card to pay for it, some cards will give you extra money off!

Plan to save

Are there already more dollars in your holiday plan than in the bank account? There are lots of online budget calculators to help you save. We used this one from HSBC.  It quickly helps us to determine exactly where we are in relation to our savings goals. Spreadsheets aren’t exactly my thing, so I’m happy to use a quick and easy resource instead.


If you’re going to be staying at a hotel or somewhere similar in price, you should plan to budget for that as well. Hotels generally run between $30-50 per night, and that’s for the cheaper hotels…

Extra money for the unexpected

Whether you like it or not, there’s going to be things that happen on your holiday that you didn’t plan for, and you’re probably not going to like it. Try to budget in around $100-200 for such things and you should be good. However, having a little extra wouldn’t hurt. Even if you don’t use it, it’s pretty nice to come home and have a couple hundred dollars extra that you didn’t think you’d have beforehand.

Money for fun

Lastly, we’re going to go over what you probably did budget for: fun. Whatever you’re doing probably isn’t going to be cheap, so make sure you include the prices of what you want to do in your budget, with a little extra in case you find something you want to do that you weren’t planning on doing. Another tip would also be to consider airmiles credit card where you earn a percentage back, or airmile bonus points for every purchase you make.
This may seem tedious, but planning a budget for your holiday can make all the difference in the world. There’s nothing like running out of money when you want to just have a good time and relax.

Youngandthrifty’s Two Cents:

These are really good tips- especially the last two- they were especially true for me on my last trip to Vietnam.  In regards to money for fun, I was being too frugal and almost declined to go scuba diving because a) I was too chicken and claustrophobic and b) it was $50 and would throw my Vietnam budget off.  I decided to go for it (and then spent $20 on a CD to catch my “once in a lifetime” adventure).  I didn’t regret the scuba diving experience, but I did regret getting suckered into buying a photo CD (all the pictures were blurry and very unflattering of me)!

With respect to budgeting for the unexpected– I had a rough idea that traveling during the Lunar New Year in Vietnam would be difficult.  It was indeed very very difficult.  I had to get from Dalat to Ho Chi Minh City (about a 6 hour drive/busride) and thought I would be able to get a bus ride back into Ho Chi Minh to catch my flight back home easily, because these buses go about every half an hour into Ho Chi Minh.  When I got to Dalat, I found out it was booked up for days.  No rides into the city.  I then had to hire a private driver (who “knew” the motorcycle tour people we went with… but that is another story about how I likely got scammed!) for $200 USD to drive me into Ho Chi Minh to catch my flight back home.  It really hurt to part with my $200 USD (to give some perspective, it was about 20% of my Vietnam travel budget), but I didn’t really have a choice.  Instead of being angry and resentful about it, I viewed my $200 is actually benefiting a family with young children.  The driver was nice too and very courteous, he even paid for my dinner of beef noodle soup 😉  (Well, seeing that beef noodle soup costs $1 USD and I was giving him $200..I think he probably thought the beef noodle soup was money well spent).

Readers, anything else you had to budget for your holiday? Have you had any unexpected costs that you just had to pay up like I did?  Are there any “for fun” experiences on your holidays that you didn’t regret budgeting for?

Article comments


I would take some extra money for my impulse spending. Whenever I go on vacation, I always have a habit of picking up a small souvenir that ends up as a knick knack on my counter, but it’s great for memories.

young says:

@FSYA- Actually, I was doing some spring cleaning and was looking at all these knick knacks I pick up (especially key chains! They are awful- I mean, I never use them and they just sit there, acting all clutter-y).

Have you tried looking at hotels.com or priceline?
You can usually book a pretty nice 3 stars hotel for around $70. If you decrease the stars, you can probably get around $50.

I would also budget for transportation not just fuel. You might need to rent a car, take subways, or pay for taxis to get around to certain places.

young says:

@Miss T- Good point! The actual transportation cost can be much more expensive than fuel (e.g. renting a car).

krantcents says:

When you are traveling, you must budget for the unexpected. You don’t want to pass up something because you did not plan for it.

young says:

@krantcents- Yup, that’s what I felt like with the scuba diving. I’m glad I did it anyway, because $50 is ‘chump change’ (or at least easily spent) here in North America.

Nice tips!

While I endorse it’s good to be frugal and budget conscious on a holiday, there is one axiom I’ve learned when travelling: pack half the clothes and take twice as much cash. You don’t usually need the former but you can always find use for the latter. 🙂

young says:

@My Own Advisor- Easy to say, hard to do! (lol for me anyway). But you are right, I always regret the amount of clothes I pack.

I was thinking of going on vacation down the west coast of USA and I wish that hotels were $30-50…. Unless I don’t know how to look for hotels.

young says:

@chipsforsupper- I think the $30-$50 rate was 5-10 years ago, seems like hotel rates have gone up thanks to inflation. Sometimes Hotwire has some good stuff.