When I don't have an endless stream of disposable income (which is almost always), and I plan to travel, I must force myself to create a budget. GAAAAH, MATH!
I do this not only because it's financially savvy; I also have great hopes of someday impressing Suze Orman. I have to think about hotel costs, transportation costs, day-to-day expenses, VAT taxes, exchange rates and...
sometimes the budget ends up looking like this:
I start with the grand total for the hotels, then add the non-negotiable travel costs (trains, planes & automobiles), and then see where that leaves me. If I'm gasping for breath at the number, that means my daily allowance is going to be smaller. Sad face.
I am a fan of round numbers, so I will choose a big, round number for my trip budget. Say, if I'm going somewhere for one week, and my hotels & transportation cost $2300, I will allow $700 for my daily expenses. That makes the big, round number $3000, which looks nice when you write it down. Then, I divide the daily expenses $700 by the number of days in the week (7, I'm practically a Mathematician), also nice and round, leaving me with $100 per day.
I keep a wee little notebook for the trips - it's tiny, and has a cute little elastic strap to keep it closed - and I write each date of the trip at the top of a page, with the daily allowance, $100, next to it. Throughout each day I will write down everything I spend, and subtract along the way. At the end of the day, if there's anything left-over, I carry it to the next page and next day. With the way I shop, this is absolutely necessary. I have to have strict boundaries. Rather than an actual person slapping my hand, I have that little elastic strap snapping over the wee notebook. BAD spender!
With my fancy budgetary constraints I can decide "Do I want to spend most of this $100 on a Michelin-starred meal?" Or, "If I walk the 10 blocks from the train station to the hotel, rather than taking a cab, that amount can go toward shopping..."
I mean, I love this:
and if I'm traveling with, or meeting up with friends, this is usually part of the cultural extravaganza.
But, if I'm by myself, I'm perfectly content making a meal of cheese and bread. Or Mentos. Nine times out of ten, I will gladly substitute Haute Cuisine for Haute Couture.
I mean, once you eat that meal, it's gone.