How to Financially Plan for a Large Trip

Last week, I discussed how to make an annual budget that works for you. Within that, you will find that I like to set up sinking funds prior to a large trip (>$500). This post highlights how to financially plan for that trip, whether for personal or small business purposes. This thought process can be used for smaller trips, however, I find that larger trips are typically the hardest to capture financially.

Estimates with Example

I have found that expenses for large trips typically fall within 6 categories. These are listed below with some short descriptions.

  • Purchase Prior – This is for any items that relate to the upcoming trip. It may be decorations for a Bachelorette party, alcohol or minimal food items to avoid higher costs in the city the trip is taken, or anything that may not have another use after the trip and does not fit into your other budget categories.
  • Transportation & Parking – This includes gas, ride sharing, or other means of transportation on the way to, during, and/or from your trip.
  • Lodging – This would be for any lodging you may need during your trip.
  • Food – This would be for food that you would consume while out during your trip.
  • Paid Activities – This is for any ticket, event, or activity you may want to partake in during your trip.
  • Tangible Items – This is for any personal or family/friend gifts that you would want to take back home with you.

Now that I have discussed the different types of purchases that I have for a large trip, it’s time for an example. I’ve displayed my expenses from a trip to Universal Studios and Island of Adventures that my family and I took over Christmas break 2020 in Figure 1 below. You can see dates with costs (rough costs in orange), resulting with a final total cost of roughly $1,547 and an average cost per day of $258. Please note these costs may not be the same for everyone and are used for example purposes.

Some things to note with the expenses below are that I did not always pay the complete totals by myself. We would often pay one tab and distribute any funds after. There were 8 people total (6 adults and 2 kids) split between two connected rooms and cars. The below expenses highlight what I spent as a 30 year old and does not include the other 7 people’s expenses with me, including my husbands. For example, I split the lodging and paid activities for the park (hotel with general and express pass), gas traveling to and from, and overnight parking for the vehicle I was in. We decided to spend a little more to stay at the Hard Rock Hotel so we could have general and express passes included with our lodging expenses. Also, this was the quickest walk from a hotel to the theme parks and City Walk. We highly valued spending more here because it lead to more flexibly for everyone and eliminated any driving between the trip or additional parking charges at the theme parks. The express passes allowed us to ride more rides and really maximize our time at the parks. I highly recommend the Hard Rock Hotel and/or paying for express passes if you can budget it in. I also don’t eat breakfast everyday or much myself, so I tend to have lower food costs.

Figure 1. Example Trip Expenses for One Adult


Now how would one want to plan for this? I would estimate costs within each category and then take the final estimate and divide that by the time until the trip is taken or needs to be paid. Since the trip was in December, if I started saving now, I would budget roughly $155 dollars for 10 months. This way I have the funds accessible to pay lodging prior to the trip and close out the balance on my credit card to avoid any accrued interest if not done so.

There are a few things to note while planning. I recommend to not wing it. If that is done, I can almost guarantee you will go over your budget or result with expenses that you could have avoided. Research where you will be going (lodging, how to get there, any local food menus) and understand yourself and others joining. Do you value maximizing your time, drinking a lot of alcohol, fine dining, bringing gifts home? It’s okay to spend money, but we want to make sure we budget and stick to our budget. I promise you will mentally enjoy this trip over feeling like you overspent.

I hope this blog helps you prepare for your upcoming trip. Thank you for taking the time to read all the way to the end. Please reach out here to book a free introductory call so I can learn more about you and your personal and/or small business needs. I would be happy to share my excel file and draft a version for you!

XOXO – Mrs. Molly Murphy

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