Trip expense planner to avoid hidden costs biting you!

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When planning a trip, you may be so excited about the sights and sounds you see that you don’t do proper budgeting for your trip. Not budgeting properly can easily happen if you don’t include all the expenses in your budget. To avoid this, use a trip expense planner. The purpose of a trip expense planner is to list all the different categories of expenses and adding amounts to each category to ensure that you don’t come across hidden costs that may bite you before or after taking your trip.

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You should complete a trip expense planner for every trip you plan on taking. It is such a useful tool for trip budgeting that it should be completed even when you just start planning a trip. Doing this would assist you in setting a budget, saving for your trip and not experiencing any cost surprises along the way.

Trip expense planner

Consider the following expenses when completing your trip expense planner to budget for a trip:

Passport costs

The very first expense to consider is whether you have a passport or whether your existing passport is sufficient for your trip. Applying for or renewing your passport is usually not a significant cost, but it is always better to be conservative when budgeting.


Do you have a suitcase or backpack to use while on your trip? Is your existing equipment still suitable for your journey? It is always good to have good quality and durable luggage to keep your belongings safe. The costs for a new suitcase or backpack vary, depending on what your criteria are.

Transportation costs

There are many modes of transportation, including flights, rail, cruises, and road transport. A trip expense planner should consider the cost of flights, car rentals, fuel costs, train tickets and any other costs relating to the different modes of transport. It is also important to consider the cost of public transport or taxis that you will use when reaching your destination.

Sightseeing and entertainment

A trip expense planner should also make provision for costs relating to any tours you may want to take, entrance fees to sights, souvenir shopping and any other forms of entertainment you may want to enjoy while on your trip. Your travel research should give you an idea of the sights you may want to see during your journey.


Every trip expense planner should consider the costs of your accommodation while away. Accommodation costs could include hotels, camping, vacation rentals or even campervans.

Meals and beverages

Budgeting for meals and drinks is important and should be included on your trip expense planner. Depending on the country you visit, this could be a significant cost for your trip. Your meals and beverages budget should consider your family’s eating habits, for example, do you like to have three meals every day or can you manage on two while having fruit for your third meal. You may also decide that you would rather cook than eat out, then you need to budget for groceries. It is better to over-estimate your food expenses that to have too little since you may then not enjoy your meals as much as when you know it won’t break your bank account.

Travel insurance

Many people make the mistake of not budgeting for travel insurance. NEVER do this! Travel insurance is essential and provides you with health insurance as well as insurance for electronic equipment you may have with you while traveling. Travel insurance is not that expenses and worth every cent!

Visa costs

Your trip expense planner should also include budgeting for possible visas you may have to obtain before your trip. Visas to some countries are free, but for some countries getting the visa alone can be a rather larger-than-expected expense. For example, for South Africans to obtain a visa to the United Kingdom is a rather comprehensive and expensive process. If you wanted to visit multiple countries, consider the visas required for each country; some might not cost much, but if you are visiting many countries on one trip, the costs may add up to a significant amount.


Some countries require you to have specific immunizations before you visit and may even require proof of this. Just phone a travel clinic or doctor offering travel-related services. When planning your trip, just give them a quick call to make sure what immunizations you need to get and what their costs will be.

Also, make sure you have enough chronic medication if you have any. If your doctor also offers travel services, get a backup script for your chronic medication and also ask your doctor for a script for a generic antibiotic in case you come down with the flu.

Restocking your first aid kit

I am ashamed to admit this, but it has happened to me more than once. A day or two before a big trip, as I am packing the first aid kit, I notice that it is practically empty and has none of the essential items. Medicine in other countries may have different names and can be expensive. Therefore, it is better to take your first aid kit with some essential items, such as pain tablets, something for stomach cramps and diarrhoea, and allergy medicine. Plasters, bandages and sterilization equipment are useful as well. No need to go overboard, but again, better be safe than sorry.

Communication or Internet costs

Don’t assume that a country you will be visiting has wifi everywhere and that it will work at all times. Rather budget for communication and Internet-related expenses such as buying a SIM card or data when overseas. These may be significant, depending on how often you want to communicate with your friends and family at home.


Other equipment costs

Perhaps you like taking lots of photos and may need an additional memory card for your camera. Or maybe you would like a particular lens for your camera to take pictures of special moments. If you plan on camping, for example, and need a new sleeping bag due to extreme weather conditions, include these costs on your trip expense planner. Also, consider new shoes or clothes that you may need for your journey, especially if you are visiting a destination with unusual weather conditions.

Currency exchange fees

Currency exchange fees are the fees that you will pay for the conversion of one currency into another. When you visit multiple countries with different currencies, this cost would be higher than when visiting one country or different countries using the same currency. Although this should not be a significant cost, it is better to budget for this in your trip expense planner.

Pet or child care while away

One of our essential costs when going away is a housesitter to look after our pets. Having peace of mind while away by knowing we have a trustworthy person at home makes this expense worth every penny! During our last trip, our hamster developed a growth on its foot, and our housesitter had to take him to the vet to have it removed. Either leave some money for the housesitter for such unforeseen expenses or make arrangements with your vet to add it to your account with them.

Setting aside extra money for incidental expenses

[bctt tweet=”Include a buffer in your trip budget for incidental expenses to stay within your budget while away!” username=”focusedtravel”]

Include a buffer in your budget when estimating your trip expenses to cover any unforeseen expenses or higher costs than expected. Remember, being conservative in your budget may result in you having money left after your trip, which is better than realizing afterward that you simply did not save enough and will owe on your credit card.

Free trip expense planner!

To help you budget for your next trip, I have developed a trip expense planner for you to use. Just click on the image below to download it for free!

Trip Expense Planner Screenshot

These are all the costs I can think of when planning a trip. Can you think of any costs or expenses that I left out? What process do you follow when budgeting for travel?


18 thoughts on “Trip expense planner to avoid hidden costs biting you!”

  1. This is such a great way to stay organised! I always do budgets for my trips which end up on scraps of paper all over the house. Because I try to travel on a budget and I know things will get left out of my pre-trip budget, I try to expect going about 20% over my estimates.

  2. Great tips! I usually have a budget in mind per trip and try to stick to it. I think it helps to pay for some things ahead of time (as long as they are refundable or I have insurance).

  3. Thank you for putting that together… It always seems so easy and low cost on the first glimps: rental car, hotel and flight, we are set! But if you have to spent 20€ in public transportation and 15% tax for the hotel and a fuel and food and high way tolls… it adds up so easily ^^Took me some years to realistically estimate our expenses ^^

  4. I used to just have a ballpark figure in mind, but writing it out definitely gives me a better perspective on sticking to my budget

  5. This is awesome! I have started planning my next trip and this would be very helpful. I am organized but I still forget things sometimes. This trip expense planner will provide me an excellent overview of what I really need.

  6. These are really great tips! So often we get surprised by something we forgot to plan for because we focus on the big things like flights and hotels, but now there’s no reason to let that happen anymore, thank you!

  7. This is so good! Many people don’t think about the other or “hidden” costs of traveling. They can really add up!

  8. Great post and comprehensive list to account for all costs during travel. I do a lot of these things to keep track of my costs, though I’ll usually give myself a buffer for any unaccounted costs. Probably not the most precise but it’s worked out pretty well for me. Still, there are some things I probably can pick up so I’ll keep this in hand for future planning.

  9. Great list! After 10 months on the road I realized that you should always have $100-$200 more than you expect to spend per month. Whether an emergency comes up, the occasional unexpected splurge, or something breaks or is lost, there is always something to raises the price everything!

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