Nothing sucks like coming back home to an empty bank account – because YOLO- when in fact you have bills to pay.

A newish survey from Bankrate found that about 60% of people living in the US will not be able to take a vacation because funds are tight. Holidays are not a need, but it is fun to let loose and travel. On social media, I have had enjoyed following conversations on vacations but not listening to my friends pinning for trips they feel they can’t take. Can we agree that many of us would love to travel? It doesn’t matter if you are going a couple of hours from home or a few thousand miles – you will have more fun if you budget for your trip.

Vacation is expensive. Are you planning a trip? Think about how much you think you will spend – now double or triple that number. I am a planner, and I was shocked by how much we spent on our recent trip to Paris. I am glad I had budgeted, but we certainly underestimated the small costs associated with international travel.


  1. Three to Six months out– Set a realistic savings goal
    1. Get realistic about the cost of flights to your destination. Use google flights and cross check that number with a few airlines. You can fly to Capetown for just under $1,500 if you book today – Just saying JWrite down the number $$$
    2. Get a realistic cost for housing – I suggest Airbnb or some other house share for a trip longer than three days & hotels for a shorter trip. Airbnb is probably better if you are going as a group. Write down the number $$$

Some airbnb’s and hotels can be trash too so do your research

  1. Get a realistic cost of local transportation – if you plan on renting a car then use your favorite car rental website to compare deals

STOP HERE – If there is no way you can manage steps 1.1 to 1.3 without dipping into your credit card and incurring debt, then you are not ready for this trip. Instead of going to Capetown consider something close to home

  1. Set a realistic goal for dining: When we went to Paris, I completely underestimated how expensive Europe is. Use yelp to get a sense of what people are spending per night – how much you pay depends on your taste and how much work you do. This confession will not make me look good, but in the spirit of transparency (truth is overrated), we once spent $150 for a simple dinner at a Jamaican restaurant in New York City because we had no idea where to go for reasonably priced -or regular black person- Jamaican meal in NYC. Strangely enough, I never spend a lot on meals in London because the drinks are cheap, hahaha. In Harare, Capetown, Nairobi, Lagos, etc. you can eat for cheap or spend a lot – the point is to get a sense of the average cost of meals, multiply that by 3 to get a daily rate and by the total number of days to get an estimated bill.

You will likely spend between $50 and $100 per person per day in most places around the world.

  1. Set a realistic goal for local transportation – in Europe use public transit. For five days, you are looking at about $60/week. Most major African cities have uber, but the rates are quite high so that local taxes might be a good option. Seek local advice and stay safe.
  2. Set a realistic budget for all your sight-seeing adventures: I assume you are going on vacation to have some fun
    1. Pre-purchase any tickets for museums or anything that has an entry fee. Do not use third-party websites if you can avoid them- pre-purchasing will not only keep you within budget, but you avoid exchange rate dilemmas
    2. Research the other things you won’t get to up to- swimming with dolphins will cost between $50 and USD 100 in Zanzibar, entering the Vic Falls is between $2 and $45 depending on your citizenship (You do not want to die without ever having visited the Falls)…

You can watch the video of him bungee jumping – it was awesome. I have also done a few crazy things in Vics like walking with lions – I know – why are you judging me

  • Remember, most things are free- visiting the Eiffel Tower is free you only pay if you want to go to the top (est. $30).

    I took this loopy looking pic

  1. Start saving for the trip
    1. Divide the totals from step 1 by the total number of paychecks before your trip. That is how much you should be setting aside each month.
    2. Set up direct deposit into your savings account for your trip – DO THIS
  2. Pay for most expenses before you leave home
    1. Purchase your ticket on your credit card and pay it off
    2. Book your hotel (set aside the money and be ready to pay it off when you check in.)
    3. Buy your museums passes etc. and pay off the balance
  3. Get travel insurance: protect all your purchases because things happen
  4. Set aside an emergency or over budget fund – about 20% of your expenses (excluding fixed things like flight and hotel)