Balling On A Budget

By Lauren ‘Leaux’ Hawkins
Lauren, pictured below, is a free-spirited, financial literate/certified, adventurous young maven whose voice will be heard with her fashion sense and through the cyber world. Even though she is a college graduate, she is still constantly learning in all aspects of life. Currently traveling through Asia, she is sharing her experiences whether they concern money or not. You can read about them at her blog www.astoldbyleaux.com.

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Balling On A Budget

It’s hard enough to manage a budget during the year while you’re on a schedule and in a routine, but you do it because it’s the only way to save for things you want to do like going on vacation. When you hop in the car or on an airplane, train or ship, leave reality for the woods or the beach or Vegas or whatever it is you’re into; the rules that have dictated your personal finance since forever disappear into your rearview mirror. It’s easy to get lost while on vacation – lost in a fantasy world that is time away from reality. But when you get back to reality, the landlord or mortgage company will still come knocking. Follow these seven (7) tips for staying on budget while on vacation.

Tip #1 – Research and Plan.

The world is filled with marvelous and interesting places to visit. Begin your traveling adventures now! When I was informed that I had a month off for vacation, I had to jump on Google to look up various attractions, currency rates and weather during the time I would be spending in that country. I decided to travel to Southeast Asia for a vacation. By knowing what attractions I wanted to see in my Southeast Asian excursion, I could then plan a detailed budget.

Tip #2 – Choosing a living accommodation.

There are only two (2) options when traveling abroad: hotels and hostels. Personally, I prefer to live in a hostel. A hostel is a low-budget accommodation shared among travelers. When booking a stay in a hostel, you typically book a bed for the night, not a room. Within this room, you are sharing with other travelers. Sometimes, you could be sharing a room with up to twenty travelers. Bathrooms are dorm-style; large, with several shower stalls and a row of sinks. Hostels usually have only one or two bathrooms on each floor. Hostels tend to lend to more interaction, cost much less than a hotel, but do not provide the privacy or personal service found at a hotel.

Tip #3 – Make a detailed budget for the trip.

Do not, I repeat, do not lose track of time before you depart. If you are like me, you sneak in Netflix any chance you get some free time. A standard budget (generic budgetary line items – best guess) may not protect you from overspending, but it gives you an idea of how much you can spend before you leave. Everyone has their own vices but by knowing current spending habits you can easily be walking toward the path to successfully creating a realistic budget.

Tip #4 – Never underestimate the power of a weaker currency.

While I was traveling Southeast Asia, the Yuan (China’s currency) weighed more than the currency I needed to use. I gave me thrill and my instinct to go on a spending spree kicked in. It is times like this you have to stop and realize that this is why you prepared a budget. No matter how cheap something is, it always adds up in the long run. Stick with your average spending allowance and try to stay within your limits. You will be very surprised how quick your account balance will disappear if you do not have a plan.

Tip #5 – Enjoy tours, adventure packages, and excursions but plan for a simple, quiet day afterward.

Organized tours and adventures are almost always a great time; however, they tend to put a dent in your daily spending budget. Acknowledge the cost of each tour and average it out over the number of days within your designated withdrawal periods. Understand that some tours might cost more than your ‘average’ daily spending allowance and sometimes it is worth it. If it is possible, try to haggle down the price of the tour with the guide. Or try to map out how much would it cost for you to tackle it yourself.

Tip #6 – Do not waste money on souvenirs for others unless they requested.

As unfortunate as this may sound, it is great advice to save money and space for my fellow backpackers. For many travelers there may be random moments abroad when a person feels they need to buy gifts for others. Why? Perhaps they might want to share the experience they had while traveling abroad. More times than not, gifts end up being a costly expense near the end of one’s trip. This is also a cause of easily racking up unnecessary spending where it could have easily been spent on something else, like food. Unless someone has expressed a REAL interest in the destination you are visiting, or they have been there before; souvenirs are often cherished for a very short period of time. Don’t fall in the trap of feeling guilty for those who could not be there with you. That is what pictures are for!

Tip #7 – Track your spending frequently – no regrets if going over budget.

You work hard and no one should take that away from you. If you go over budget yet you had the time of your life, and are richer from the experience; then you have succeeded. Hopefully, you do not go too much over budget. I tracked my spending by having the amount I wanted to spend in a certain country on my IPAD. Each morning, I would recall how much something was spent for all meals, miscellaneous items and etc. If you stick to your budget you should be able to stay on target, or at least close to it.

Vacations are great for the soul. Being away from home and the schedule, relaxing, touring, and trying new adventures is a refreshing experience. Vacations can, however, be very hard on the budget – your money can go by really quick. For every vacation, always remember: You can do anything but, NOT everything. Happy Savings!

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