We don’t associate fun and adventure with budgets. Travel is one of the situations where fun, adventure and budgets overlap.

In order to keep the fun and adventure high, it is vitally important to plan for and track spending abroad.  You need a solid travel budget. Building a budget from scratch can be overwhelming. It’s not so difficult if you have a template. Luckily, there are plenty available for free online. For this exercise, we’ll use this free travel budget template from exceltemplatespro.com.

This template will give you a rough idea of how much you’ll need to make your trip a reality.


Start by going through the list of possible expenses provided here. How much is your flight going to cost? How about your hotel? What’s the average cost of cab fare or food? You can find ballpark answers to these questions online.

Next, calculate how much of each of these expenses you’ll need. The template will automatically add these expenses for you. From there, you can determine your trip budget.

Let’s try it: Imagine you’re taking a solo trip to Paris, France. Here are the details of your trip:

  • You decide to stay six nights.
  • For the sake of convenience, you decide not to rent a car and opt for public transportation instead.
  • You book a room at Hotel Saint-Jaques – it’s about $250 per night, and very pretty.
  • You save a little money by taking a connecting flight rather than flying nonstop. It’s $650 each way.
  • You’ll arrive Monday evening, and you’ll depart Sunday morning. This means, conservatively, you’ll have five dinners, five lunches, six breakfasts and a smattering of snacks. You’ll want to partake in some fine French cuisine, so you make your average meal figure a little more pricey.
  • You decide you want to go to three museums while you’re there. Paris, after all, is a very romantic and historic spot.
  • A friend recommends a concert at the Salle Pleyel. You can’t pass this one up.
  • You’re going to need some rudimentary French if you want to do as they do in Paris. You decide to purchase a decent phrasebook or app.
  • Two more things you’ll need: travel medical insurance and emergency money. If there’s an accident and you’re hurt, travel medical insurance can save you tens of thousands of dollars on your care and evacuation. On top of that, if you have your money stolen, some emergency funds in your account will cushion the blow and allow you to pay for some basic expenses.

Knowing these basic facts about your trip, you can plug in the numbers and see what your total is and what your budget should be. This is how much you need to save before you travel:


Your exact total adds up to $4,321. To save up enough, you should set your sights on $4,500. Depart Smart strongly recommends adding costs for a mobile plan so you can communicate with folks back home and get help immediately if you need it.

One of the conveniences of using a template is that you can make adjustments as your plans and your budget change. Expenses like travel medical insurance and public transport are non-negotiable. However, you can always look for a cheaper flight, cut out a museum trip or get a bargain on your hotel.

Or, say you’re going to take a detour and visit England for a day trip. You can add another few lines to cover your trip down the Channel Tunnel, your sightseeing fees and your trip home. Once you know how much you’re going to spend in the Queen’s country, you can even plan for how much cash you want in euros and how much you want in pounds sterling. (For more information on that, visit our blog entry on currency.)

Take some time and prepare a few hypothetical trips of your own. You’ll find it’s easier to be relaxed and spontaneous abroad when you have a plan in writing.