Financial Travel Tip #23: Budgeting and Tracking Travel Expenses

by Nora Dunn on April 7, 2012


Last week we discussed what a realistic travel budget should be, and how ultimately unique travel budgets are to each individual.

And in the past I’ve extolled the virtues of tracking your expenses as a crucial step to the budgeting process, regardless of whether or not you are traveling.

 

Ways to Track Travel Expenses

I’ve used a few tools to track my expenses while traveling. At first, I used to write everything down in my trusty travel journal and then transpose my chicken scratches to a spreadsheet.

 

The next step to my expense-tracking-evolution was with Budget Your Trip, which is an online travel budget planning/tracking tool.

(For a review of this free service see: How to Budget and Track Expenses for Your Next Vacation)

 

But tracking your expenses manually on a spreadsheet or notebook while on the road and potentially juggling multiple currencies can be cumbersome and ultimately leaves room for both user error and laziness.

So I like to track my expenses using my iTouch (note: Budget Your Trip has an Android app, and it’s free).

 

I also like to export my travel expenses to a spreadsheet where I can manipulate and analyze the data to understand – and ultimately publish – my costs of full-time travel.

(See: My Cost of Full-Time Travel in 2011)

 

So I’m currently using the iPhone/iTouch app called Travel Pocket. It’s cheap ($1.99), juggles multiple currencies, allows me to record expenses in a number of categories, and then export my data into a spreadsheet where I can “have my way” with the data.

 

Other Expense Tracking Apps

I’ve also heard of EEBA, which takes the concept of “Envelope Budgeting” and makes it iPhone/Android/Web friendly. I haven’t tested it out myself, but for certain travel expense tracking needs, it looks like a handy app.

 

And there’s Spentable; an easy way to record, track, and export your expenses on the go. (Available for the iPhone and Andriods.

 

 

To my knowledge, neither of these two applications support tracking multiple currencies for travelers on the move, but they could be a good solution if you’re looking for a simple expense-tracking solution to take control of your finances.

 

These are just a few ways to budget and track your travel expenses on the road.

How do you do it?

 

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Jarratt April 8, 2012 at 5:50 am

Hello,

I have just started travelling and before leaving I purchased the iOS app ‘Home Budget’. It’s great for me (us – travelling with my partner) as we can sync details between devices, and export all costs out to review on my laptop.

Similar to the above apps I suppose, just the one I chose to buy! But the sync between devices was a good feature to get.

I love your blog by the way, have been following along for a few months now :)

Jarratt

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theprofessionalhobo April 8, 2012 at 10:20 am

@Jarratt – I think the sync option between devices is very valuable! I’m not sure if the apps I mentioned have that feature, but it’s a great thing for couples and families to be aware of.

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Tracey - Life Changing Year April 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm

I have to admit I love a budgeting spreadsheet. I’ve always used one at home and now I jot the expenses in my iPhone notes and every couple of days stick them in my spreadsheet. It helps that on the road we only have 3 categories. Food, accommodation, everything else!!

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theprofessionalhobo April 9, 2012 at 6:13 pm

@Tracey – I too like spreadsheets, for the ability to manipulate data and analyze it a few different ways. Having only 3 categories makes it even easier! Do you log each expense and/or include specific notes on anything?

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Jeff April 11, 2012 at 7:26 am

I don’t travel with a smartphone but I do track my expenses. In fact, I have created a pretty useful tracking spreadsheet that can handle multiple currencies (40 at the moment but more can be added easily), has 10 spending categories, calculates averages (including the average exchange rate based on your cash withdrawals) and even draws some spending breakdown graphs. There are two worksheets, one for just a month and one for an entire year, depending on whether you are a casual or long-term traveler, though you can specify start and end dates as well for a more variable number of travel days. It’s free for anyone who wants it as a Google doc. Find it at:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ar85DmoKZH7_dHNwazM0WXVfYmxKaTg5enJrTlNKYWc#gid=3

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theprofessionalhobo April 11, 2012 at 10:55 am

@Jeff – Thanks so much for the spreadsheet! What a great resource. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one out there who likes to track expenses and manipulate the data. Whew!

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Chi-En @ EEBA April 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm

@theprofessionalhobo, thanks for sharing about EEBA with your readers!

We think staying on the same page with your household members is key to successful budgeting, so EEBA supports real-time, hands-free sync across Androids, iPhones, and the web. Especially helpful when travel puts you and your partner in two different places at once!

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theprofessionalhobo April 22, 2012 at 1:43 pm

@Chi-En – Thanks for stopping by! Cheers.

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Jo April 1, 2013 at 12:35 am

Hi Nora,
I hope things are improving for you and your partner. He had a daughter didn’t he? How is she coping with you two? This must be sooo hard for you when you hadn’t been with him for very long. That’s really being thrown in at the deep end.
Now I have a question for you. You said you used Travel Pocket but when I went to App Store it didn’t come up….only Pocket Travel which is about destinations!! I did google the money apps but still didnt find it. Can you help please…. if you are up to it. Don’t worry if you’re not.
Prayers still coming your way,
Jo Mahar

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theprofessionalhobo April 1, 2013 at 9:29 am

Hi Jo,
I have a post coming up on this soon….but I’ll tell you now – the app I’m using (and the best I’ve used so far) is Trail Wallet. Designed by travelers….for travelers!
http://www.neverendingvoyage.com/travel-budget-app-trail-wallet/

Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers! This accident was the climax to a few months of utter chaos. I can’t say more than that, as it’s not my place to divulge.
But suffice it to say, I’m dubbing this last period “the winter of my discontent”, to which I sa: Bring on the Spring!

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Sarka October 11, 2013 at 10:02 am

Hi,

i´m for tracking my expenses, incomes and controlling travel budget using Walletapp.net.

You can change currency, locate place of income, sort budgets and categories of expenses and many more.

Here you can read how to use it exactly:
http://blog.walletapp.net/post/62904335403/how-to-control-your-holiday-expenses-with-wallet-app

For me its awesome app!! :)

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Zakaria Tassamart March 27, 2014 at 8:25 am

Thanks for sharing great information with us.
I agree that tracking expenses is very important especially while in travel.
For that, I would suggest Keepek that proposes an efficient way for tracking expenses. With Keepek android app: just snap pictures of your receipts, the app extracts then key information such as merchant name, amount and date. The picture itself is stored and you can view it on your smartphone anytime and anywhere. You can easily manage categories and enter manual expenses as well as mileages. You can also share expenses with others you choose.

The app is free and can be used also to track everyday expenses since it is easy to use. Get it here : http://goo.gl/61B2Zb
website: http://www.keepek.com

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