How to Figure Out How Much to Spend Per Day While Traveling
You can't enjoy your vacation if you're paying for it with next month's rent. Creating a travel budget is different for each person, and you should consider both your financial reality and your destination when you make one. For instance, a 2008 AAA survey reported by the Los Angeles Times found that the daily cost of lodging and food for two adults in Honolulu was $673.13 on average, while lodging and meals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, would only cost a couple an average of $178.78 per day. Establish a daily budget before you leave, then stick to it diligently so you won't arrive home with nothing to your name but memories.
Calculate the total budget for your trip. Add up your monthly income and subtract all your monthly bills from this amount to determine how much disposable income you have in each month. Limit yourself to using one month's worth of disposable income or you won't have any money to use for fun activities the next month. Add any savings you've earmarked for your trip to this amount to determine your travel budget.
Subtract round-trip travel costs -- like your airfare and rental car or the tolls and gas you'll have to pay for to drive there -- from your overall trip budget. Subtract any other one-time expenses, like a new suitcase or a passport-processing fee.
Book your lodgings before making any further travel plans so you'll know how much money you'll have left over each day for food and activities. Book a room that accounts for no more than half of your trip budget minus transportation costs; you may need to choose a motel or hostel if you're on a tight budget. Look for a hotel with an included breakfast to save some cash. Use any available discount to get the best price; if you're a AAA member or military or government employee, for instance, you can get a discount of around 10 percent at many chain hotels.
Subtract your hotel costs from your overall budget, minus transportation and one-time costs, to find your disposable trip budget. Divide the number of days you'll be traveling into this number to get your per-day budget.
Estimate food costs. Plan to spend around $5 on breakfast, $10 on lunch and $15 to $30 for dinner, as of 2012. Adjust amounts upward if you're traveling to an expensive European city like Paris or London or a bit downward if you're in a small town. You may also opt to buy food in a grocery store rather than eating each meal out if you're on a tight budget. Add $5 to $10 for each alcoholic drink you plan to consume each day.
Subtract your daily food estimation from your disposable per-day budget. Use whatever's left over for souvenirs, shopping, museum entry fees and for transportation costs like subway fares.
Things You Will Need
If you're staying in a resort or taking a cruise, contact the company to find out what items are included in your bill. You may find that breakfast and dinner are included but you're responsible for lunch, or that all meals are covered but you pay for all drinks. Deduct the entire resort cost from your overall trip budget minus transportation and one-time costs, then figure out your per-day budget and plan to pay for any items that aren't included out of this budget.