As we began planning our trip to London and Paris I created an Excel spreadsheet to use in estimating our expenses. I created lines for each day of the trip, including what we intended to do that day. Then I added columns for the entry of various types of expenditures. Some were prepaid: Travel, Lodging, and a couple of Sightseeing items. They were charged to the credit card and were paid before we ever left home. Other columns listed items with amounts I either had researched or were just educated guesses: Food, Travel (local), and Sightseeing (again). I filled in these amounts the best I could.
All told, then, I had a budget for our trip.
During the trip we used a debit card to get cash and only used the credit card for our final night’s lodging. We carried cash (plus a little) for each day and paid for everything as we went. I didn’t bother to hang on to receipts for things paid for by cash. Of course, we knew how much we had withdrawn with the debit card, so we knew where we were so far as the big picture was concerned.
In other words, I knew I’d taken, say, $500 cash with the debit card, so when I was running out of money I knew we’d spent $500 – I just didn’t bother trying to keep up with how much we’d spent on food or on public transportation or sightseeing.
I’ve just finished revisiting the spreadsheet, now working with actual dollar amounts.
The bottom line: we spent $55.39 more than I budgeted!
Obviously, my research and educated guesses were pretty good. One thing, I think, that kept us on track was that we planned to put about as much effort into each day as we could physically do so there wasn’t much chance that we’d suddenly decide to visit an extra attraction. Our plate was full enough as it was. Speaking of “plates” – the food budget would have been the easiest one to blow. Since we were in an apartment most of the time we planned to eat pretty much what we always eat for breakfast. We then planned on having a light (sandwich type) lunch each day and then eat out that evening unless we just wanted to hang out at the apartment and fix something easy for supper. We did that a few times, but also enjoyed some good meals in the nearby restaurants. Let me add that we generally like finding places where the locals eat rather than going to a more up-scale restaurant. One person could have spent our entire day’s food budget in a lot of very nice establishments. I’m not against that, but that’s just not our thing.
Anyway, if a person spends some time looking into things and is realistic, there’s a good chance that they can set a trip budget and stick to it.
At least, let’s say, missing it by no more than $55.39.