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Vacation planning can be a fun exercise in balancing budgets against bucket lists. With the pandemic creating pent-up travel demand, more people are traveling (or planning to) now that vaccines are widely available and the tourism industry has bounced back
Rising inflation has impacted travel, making budgeting more important than ever. Even if you’re using travel credit cards to offset some of the costs, it’s important to have a budget for all other expenses.
Whether you’re traveling alone or with a group, it can be challenging to track costs and avoid overspending. Luckily, you don’t have to do this entirely on your own. There are lots of great travel apps that will help you plan travel and track your budget. Some of them even make it easy to coordinate with a large group and split expenses evenly.
If that sounds right up your alley, you’ll want to review our seven best apps to help you travel on a budget:
Best travel budget apps
With so many great travel budget apps on the market, you might be wondering which one to get. It really comes down to your travel style and needs. Are you traveling solo or with a group? Do you need a simple budget tracker or do you want planning tools? There’s something out there for everyone, but here are the best options:
Staying on budget when you’re traveling can be challenging. Expensify lets you track your travel expenses easily. The app lets you upload and share receipts with your accounting team for reimbursement.
If you’re merely tracking expenses for tax purposes, Expensify offers several handy tools. The GPS calculator automatically tracks your eligible mileage for you, so you don’t have to enter it manually. The app also lets you create expense reports by scanning receipts or entering time worked, for billing purposes.
Sign-up is super easy. All you have to do is provide your email address to set up an Expensify account. You can start using the app immediately, which is free for most users. A “Collect” account, which includes accounting and payroll tools, costs $5 per month. Meanwhile, a “Control” account costs $9 per month and allows for multiple approvers, setting expense policies and custom reporting tools.
When you sign up for Expensify, you can get a seven-day free trial of the Collect and Control memberships.
PocketGuard markets itself as the “#1 budgeting app for college students and overspenders,” but it’s actually a great vacation budget planner. That’s because the app uses the “in my pocket” feature to calculate how much disposable income you have available. You can then allocate this towards your travel budget.
All you have to do is provide your income and spending information. PocketGuard will calculate your disposable income accordingly. Vacation planning may not be a priority for you if you’re in debt, but PocketGuard will recommend a strategy for paying it off in the most efficient way. You can use PocketGuard to set financial goals, save money and plan for future travel as a reward.
If you’re looking for a spending tracker app that also rewards you for your purchases, look no further than Spent. Spent lets you link your credit cards and earn cash back when you use it at participating merchants. These include popular travel and dining merchants like Airbnb, Starbucks and Shell gas stations. Whether you’re taking a road trip or planning a getaway to some exotic destination, you can earn cash back on your travel expenses while staying on budget.
Once you’re ready to redeem your rewards, you can transfer your cash back rewards to your PayPal account. Aside from earning rewards, Spent offers a budget and receipt tracker. This comes in handy when you’re traveling or just going about your daily life.
If you’re traveling with a group, it’s not always practical for each person to pay for their own expenses. Pulling out multiple credit cards to cover the group dinner bill is possible, but booking group tours and even airfare can be a hassle when done individually. That’s where Splitwise comes in. The app lets users track shared expenses and the balance owed by each person. This transparency can make it much easier to determine who owes what at the end of a group trip.
Simply download the free app, add group members and each of you can enter shared expenses as they occur. The app will divide up the total equally among all group members. PayPal and Venmo are both integrated into the app, allowing you to seamlessly settle up at the end of the trip.
Bachelorette parties can be challenging in so many ways, but the BACH app is especially designed to simplify things. The app provides budgeting and planning tools to make bachelorette parties less stressful. Users can budget, plan and book all activities associated with their bachelorette party. You can even add your friends to the app to communicate and make planning decisions easier. You can also divide up expenses in the app.
While BACH is marketed around bachelorette parties, you can use it to book any type of group activity in participating cities. Use it to plan your girls’ getaway, Friendsgiving, reunion or virtually any other excuse to gather close friends. The BACH app is free to use, though there is a processing fee when you make a booking.
The Trabee Pocket app provides both budget and expense tracking in a user-friendly interface. Trabee lets you set a budget and then enter your expenses to track how much you’re spending in different categories. The app also provides currency conversion, so you can get an accurate sense of your spending abroad.
At the end of your trip, you can even export your expense data to a PDF or CSV file for future budgeting and tax purposes. Overall, this is a solid app if you want a free spending tracker app. Trabee is available on iOS and the Google Play store.
The great thing about Tripcoin is that you can use it without an internet connection, which is great if you’re traveling through remote areas. With a Dropbox integration, you can also back up your data, so you have it in case you lose your phone. Tripcoin has a user-friendly interface that makes budget tracking simple.
Set up a trip and the app will break down your spending each day by expense category. You can find out how much you’re spending on transportation, meals, activities and other travel expenses. It’s a great way to stay accountable and on top of your budget at each destination.
Tripcoin supports over 150 currencies, converging your spending automatically based on current exchange rates. This ensures accuracy in your budget tracking and ensures you don’t have to perform this tedious task yourself.
The bottom line
With the holiday travel season in full swing, having a travel budget tracker is more important than ever. Planning a vacation on a budget is one thing, but sticking to it can be very challenging. By utilizing some of these apps, you can stay on budget, cut down on unnecessary expenses and plan your travels more efficiently.