Budgeting for travel – a consultant’s advice

July 30, 2012 by Flight Centre UK

One of the privileges of being a travel consultant is that you often double as an agony uncle or aunt, writes Flight Centre consultant Miles Buckeridge. Here, he gives us the low down on one of the questions he’s most asked: how do I go about budgeting for my trip?

Budget dictates everything: destination, duration, method of travel, comfort of travel, accommodation, footwear, board basis, spending money, activities.There are so many different ways to customise a travel budget that you mind find yourself daunted when facing the task.

The good news is this: there are tips and tricks to help you decide how to spend your money – and you don’t necessarily need to be a spreadsheet whiz. Looking for a romantic break? Don’t just look for the basic rooms – sometimes it’s worth taking a step down in terms of which resort you choose if it means you can upgrade the room.

The Maldives are perfect for this. The plethora of Indian Ocean pin-prick atolls can make hotel choice labour intensive – a decision that is made harder by the sheer number of room types on offer. But if the same budget gets you a water villa with a plunge pool on one island – versus a simple room with a bed on another – then you’ll be glad you did your research.

One other tip for the Maldives – don’t try to save money by going half-board. If you’re on an island the size of a duvet, consider the chances of being able to pop over to the Maldivian equivalent of Asda for some Pot Noodles and can of Tango.

Just popping to the shops... Sarah wondered if she could hitch a ride to the nearest supermarket

When you decide on a travel budget, make sure you plan a stretched, worst-case-scenario budget too so that you can breathe calmly in bouts of indecision. (The idea of spontaneous travel is devilishly intoxicating but the reality is normally a very restricted horizon of choice, or frustratingly inflated availability-based cost.)

Then ask yourself, have I included all costs in my budget? It’s easy to forget about things such as visas, vaccinations, insurance, duty-free indulgences. Do your research, consult your local travel clinic and ask your friendly travel agent (that’s what we’re here for!).

If you’re the type that prefers chasing frontiers to unpacking the suitcase just the once, then you might want to consider an escorted tour. It’s a good way of dictating spend before you travel. Tours can end up costing less than if you were planning it all yourself – remember, operators receive preferential rates for transport and accommodation for their guests.

What’s that you say? “Waking up early … no free time or free will,” I hear you cry. Good points, but not necessarily valid. Most good tour operators build in days for lie-ins and free time to explore at your leisure.

Pick your tour carefully – there are thousands of tour operators out there that cater for almost every niche you wish to stuff yourself into: from the off-the-beaten-track brigade to the luxuriating-by-the-pool-with-a-piña-colada lovers. And of course you can travel with certain age groups and lifestyle types.

The second day of the itinerary looked pretty much identical to the first

But if you can’t overcome the nightmare that you’ll end up stuck on a coach with Rita and Peter the Riveta-eaters from Nuneaton (ed: any resemblance to real Ritas and Peters from Nuneaton is entirely coincidental. And we applaud your penchant for rhyme) – then consider this: most tour companies and travel agents can tailor-make your trips, charter private tour guides and arrange entrance fees. After all, that’s why we still exist in this era of the point and click revolution.

It’s worth remembering that travel is one of the finest things you can spend your hard-earned money on – it broadens the mind, indulges the hedonistic predisposition of the pursuit of pleasure and always manages to get you just far enough away from whatever it is you’re trying to get away from. As the traveller’s proverb goes, it’s the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.

We know another way you can save some hard earned pennies! Take advantage of our worldwide airfare sale – with direct routes to over 40 destinations on sale starting from £339.

Want more travel for your money? Why not email Miles and see what he can do!