There is a lot of difference in travel styles and travel budgets. We are on a budget and we need to track our expenses to make our travels last as long as possible. I tend to keep very close track of our spendings when we’re on the road and I want to be able to see where we went overboard. So I’ve been trying to find a good method for monitoring our travel expenses like a decent travel budget app since the first time we started traveling and have optimized this system along the way. Establishing this system took some time and experience because we encountered travel expenses we didn’t realize we would make, like visits to a dentist and other non-fun stuff. Budget tracking can be done in a lot of different ways and it’s up to you if you need to think of this as a serious business or just to know. We ended up using the best travel budget app around and we’d love to share our experience about it! Find out more information about how to find cheap accommodation when traveling on a budget and learn how to bargain! Own less to travel more and adapt to the alternative lifestyle of travel.
Why track expenses?
A tight budget is a great reason to keep track of your money. It’s always good to know how far your travel budget will take you and if you should be thinking about ways to make money or buy a ticket home. I want to know how much we spent on accommodation or food or transportation, just to see if we’re doing well or we need to save on certain things.
How to manage your budget?
I’ve heard other travelers tell me their budget-keeping secrets. They aren’t really secrets, but still: it’s nice to know how others do it. Some backpackers have a set budget for a certain amount of time and they just split their budget into weeks. So they know how much they can spend each week, get it out of the bank and if they still have money in their pocket on Sunday, they had a good week.
Our system is basically the same, but we play it differently. We set a monthly budget and evaluate that each month. It doesn’t really matter how you do it, as long as you don’t run out before due date! Budget traveler or not, everyone has to keep to some sort of budget. Bookkeeping is a lot of work and it takes up some time. I tried a few methods and tried to make it easy and low-maintenance. Eventually, we found a great app to keep track of everything without me having to categorize every cent. These are some money management methods travelers use:
- Set a fixed amount per week and get just that out of the ATM
- Only use cash to keep better track of your budget
- Track your expenses manually
- Get a money management app or travel budget app – how the track our travel budget
- Splurge and run out of money too soon – not a good option
The beginning of travel money management
On our first trip, we had a lot more time than money and not much has changed since then. That’s why we could spend some of our time on figuring out how long our travel budget would last. We had a physical book instead of a travel budget app in which we wrote every cent we spent. The book wasn’t that convenient for writing down everything while traveling. It was too big to carry all the time.
Nobody goes out to eat a taco holding their entire financial plan.
So I typed everything into Evernote or another mobile app to copy it to the book later. Evernote is a great app to take notes in different ways: you can write, type, take a photo or talk. We made a note called “expenses” and typed everything in there. Every few days we copied all the expenses into the book, changed currencies to euro and divided them into categories.
A lot of work, right?
Because we did everything by hand, it seemed best not to have a hundred categories. Basic expenses while traveling are easy to split up. We started out by dividing our spendings into these four options: Transportation – Accommodation – Food – Extra. This gave us a global idea of where our money went. We still use these categories (and many more) today, but with our travel budget app, we can add a lot of sub-categories.
‘Transportation’ included all buses, trains, flights, and taxis. ‘Accommodation’ makes sense, I guess. It includes all sleeping costs. ‘Food’ includes supermarket trips and restaurants. We recently divided food into these two sections, because we tend to eat in local restaurants a lot when traveling. Self-catering is mostly cheaper. Our ‘Extra’ category is everything else. This could be a cool excursion as well as the visit to the dentist. Because this is quite broad, we recently split up this category.
Our Manual Budget Categories
Our Budget App Categories
- Accommodation / Lodging
- Meal – Out
- Meal – Store
- Shopping / Souvenirs
The Android travel budget app solution
Android, as well as iPhones, offer a plethora of money management apps. Most of those budget apps are designed for home situations and can be synced with your actual bank account. They have pre-fixed categories for everything and you can attach multiple existing accounts. Most of them work best when you enter your income as well so you get a good idea of your actual account balance.We didn’t want all that since we only keep track of our every cent when traveling. We needed something simple and efficient. I took me so long to find an app that was simple and straightforward. In my opinion, most budget apps offer too much, which just makes it complicated. I don’t want to track my expenses when I’m at home. We currently only use these apps for travel, so we were looking for a dedicated travel budget app.
Trabee Pocket Budget App
Dozens of money management apps I’ve tried. We eventually choose this one, because it has everything we needed. This budget app is easy to use, has just some categories you need for travel and it’s free to use. It allows you to see (in a pie chart) where your money went. Our train journey through Europe was pretty expensive and as you can see in the budget app screenshot: trains aren’t cheap in Europe! The cool thing is that you can just enter your travel expenses in the currency you actually use. That way you can also see how much money you spent traveling each country. The currency exchange was a big hassle in the pre-budget app era.
How Trabee Pocket travel budget app works
First, you probably want to create a trip on the main screen of the app. When pressing the PLUS symbol, you’ll be able to add a title to your trip. You can choose your travel dates and the country. It doesn’t really matter if you don’t know the end date of your travel because you can change that anytime. The app will also ask for a currency. You can choose between every currency on earth and you can always add different currencies while traveling, so we just put our starting currency and our own. Our own currency is interesting because we pay for flights in Euro.
Once you created a trip, you will be able to see it on the home screen of the money management app. After tapping on your trip, you can add expenses by tapping on the plus symbol or by swiping down on your screen. Adding expenses is quite straightforward. You can choose a currency and a category before you add the amount. If you wish, you can add a picture of the travel expense: a receipt or a picture of the meal you just paid. Trabee Pocket only takes a few minutes of tapping away to learn how to use it.
If you want to add additional spending categories, as we did, you need to purchase the premium version of this money management app. It’s not expensive and I haven’t regretted buying the app since I really love and use it for money management on every trip we make.
Notice: Just hope you never need support for this app, because support is non-existent. You probably won’t need it, but it’s good to know in advance they don’t reply to emails nor support tickets.
I know there are a lot more decent money management apps and budget apps out there that we haven’t tried yet. So feel free to let us know which budget app or gadget you use to keep track. We’re very interested in learning about new budget apps or older apps that just do the trick!