Why My Travel Budgets Won’t Match Yours

I write up a travel expenses post for almost every trip I take. Partly I do this because it’s fun for me, but mostly I’m hoping it’ll help you plan and make a budget for your own trip. But guess what? No two budgets will ever be the same. What I spend on my trip might be wildly different from what you’ll spend in the same place or for the same amount of time. Here’s why my travel budgets won’t match yours.

We all have different travel styles

my travel budget won't match yours
Helsinki is an expensive city, so we spent more than we normally would on a hotel

Andy and I are not bare-bones budget backpackers. I don’t set out to spend the least amount of money possible when I travel. We don’t stay in hostels (though we have in the past), we don’t use Couchsurfing, and we don’t sacrifice comfort or location to save a few bucks.

On the other hand, we’re also not luxury travelers. We might occasionally splurge on a nice place, like a hot springs resort in Costa Rica, but in general, we don’t stay at super expensive or lavish hotels. Andy and I like good food, but we aren’t fancy foodies seeking out Michelin star restaurants.

We are middle of the road when it comes to this area of travel style. And sometimes we book the cheap guesthouse, while other times we splurge on the fancy resort. But most of the time it’s an average, nice, comfortable, not-too-extravegant hotel.

There’s nothing wrong with being more of a budget traveler or more of a luxury traveler. I’ve done both, and both have their merits. But you have to take that into account when looking at my or anyone else’s travel budget. If your travel style is different, you’re likely to spend differently.

We all enjoy different activities

my travel budget won't match yours - Moscow food tour pelmeni
We love food tours, like the one we took in Moscow

Plenty of people love going to museums. A trip to Paris or St. Petersburg might seem incomplete without spending hours wandering through the Louvre or the Hermitage admiring the art. Others like to go to the opera or ballet. But these aren’t things Andy or I enjoy.

We love food tours. LOVE them. Andy and I look for food tours in almost every city we visit. And sometimes we book other types of tours, like a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey, or the time my best friend and I booked a tour to the Loire Valley from Paris. These types of tours come with a price tag. That price might be comparable to opera or ballet tickets, but museum entrance tickets are usually inexpensive in comparison.

There are other times when we only end up doing free activities. Often the outsides of castles are more impressive than the insides, so we don’t pay to go in. Wandering through an old town doesn’t cost a penny. Or we might spend our time soaking up the atmosphere in local cafes for just the cost of a coffee.

The types of activities you enjoy will determine what you do while on vacation and where you will spend your money. Don’t assume someone’s entertainment budget will match yours if the things they do while traveling are things that don’t interest you.

We often take different kinds of trips

my travel budgets won't match yours - Malaga, Spain
Malaga was one of our favorite cities from our most recent trip to Spain

As I mentioned, I share my travel budgets to give you an idea of what it might cost you to travel somewhere. But the type of trip might not match up with yours.

For example, we just finished up a one month trip in Spain, but we needed to be able to work while we were there. This meant traveling slower than the average tourist might. We spent one week in each of 4 cities. For a trip like that, we’ll rent apartments at a slightly cheaper nightly rate than hotels, we’ll cook a bunch of meals instead of eating out all the time, and we won’t do touristy activities every day.

But if you’re traveling there for vacation, you might only spend 2 or 3 days in each city. You’ll probably book hotels, eat out for every meal, and spend money on museums or tours or whatever it is you like doing.

So are other people’s travel budgets worthless?

my travel budgets won't match yours - Wrocław, Poland
Poland is a wonderful country where your dollar will last a lot longer

No, of course not. You can’t look at how much we spent in Prague and assume your trip will cost the same about per day. But you can look at what we spent along with what we did and where we stayed, and makes your own estimates from there.

Do you like the types of hotels we normally stay at but you want 5 course dinners? Research the cost of dining at those types of restaurants.

Do you like our food tour suggestion but you also want to go to half a dozen museums? Look up the cost of the museum entrance fees, see if there’s a museum pass or a city pass that covers the museums you want plus some other perks. Or see if the museums offer any free or discounted days.

Are you more willing to stay outside the center of the city to save money? You can probably find cheaper hotels if you don’t mind spending more time getting to the sights.

Are you not as interested in food? You can save money by booking a place with a kitchen (like an apartment or a hostel with a communal kitchen) or you can buy sandwiches, fruit and granola bars at a grocery store. You can seek out the $5 meals instead of the $12 ones. Skip the alcohol. Skip the cafes and gelato.

I think you get the idea.

Everyone’s travel budget will vary. My budgets, and any other blogger’s budgets, are just examples. They’re a starting point. They give you a ballpark number to work with, but you should always look at several different budget blog posts (if possible) and do your own research based on your travel style and preferences. Only then can you start to form an idea of how much it might cost you to travel.

You might also enjoy: