Financial Travel Tip #76: Tracking Expenses with Trail Wallet

by Nora on April 20, 2013

 

In my Financial Travel Tip about budgeting and tracking expenses, I mention a few apps that are handy for tracking expenses as a traveler.

 

Since then Simon and Erin – fellow full-time travelers – of Never Ending Voyage (check out a week-in-the-life of Erin and Simon here) have developed a travel-friendly budgeting and expense tracking app called Trail Wallet.

 

And to date, it’s the best travel-centric expense tracking app I’ve used.

 

Trail Wallet

 

It’s quick, intuitive, pretty(!), and has easily customizable categories so you can organize and record your expenses in a way that makes sense to you. All expenses are automatically converted to your home currency and displayed alongside the local currency, and you can easily switch between currencies to record expenses incurred at home.

 

You can export the information to a spreadsheet for manipulation – a feature I treasure in compiling my annual cost of full-time travel posts. And you can export it in a few different ways – as well as juggle up to five different currencies- depending on how you like to organize your data.

 

Organizing and summarizing my expenses in a spreadsheet takes a fraction of the time that I used to spend with my last expense tracking app; largely because the data gets properly organized at the time of entry, with the customizable categories.

 

Andriod users: I’m sorry, you’re out of luck (at least for now). Trail Wallet is only available for devices of the i genre (iPhone, iPod, iPad). But another app I have my eye on (if I ever migrate to Andriod) is Track Every Coin (free).

 

But if you’re of the Apple ilk, I would suggest that Trail Wallet is $2.99 well spent.

 

 

Editor’s Note: I received a free copy of Trail Wallet for review. All opinions expressed herein are unbiased and my own. I’m a stickler for a good expense-tracking app! 

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Erin April 20, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Thanks very much for the review Nora and we’re so pleased that the app worked out well for you. It’ll be even better with the next version as we are planning to add more export options and the ability to easily switch between 3 currencies.

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2 theprofessionalhobo April 21, 2013 at 9:45 am

Score! 🙂

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3 Sam April 20, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Yes yes yes! My partner and I love this app. I would say it’s changed the way we travel, but we’ve been lucky enough to have it since the beginning of our trip and can’t recommend it highly enough!

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4 theprofessionalhobo April 21, 2013 at 9:49 am

Sam – I’m not sure tracking expenses (no matter the platform) will change the way anybody travels per se, but then again – if you’re vigilant about tracking expenses to begin with, then it stands to reason that you’ll be more pensive about racking up the bills.
Glad you’ve been using this app! Do you also set a daily budget with it? (That’s one feature I don’t tend to use).

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5 Sam April 21, 2013 at 10:40 am

Since my partner is in charge of the expense tracking, and I mostly just poke my nose in to see how it’s going and to form our monthly spending reports, I don’t personally use the daily budget feature. He has set us one, however, but it’s at least £10 higher than we normally ever spend (or would like to spend), so it’s really just there for demonstrative purposes.

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6 theprofessionalhobo April 21, 2013 at 10:57 am

I do find that setting a daily budget is a bit of a misnomer since travel expenses are far from steady. One long-haul flight will throw the daily budget out of whack.
But I DO like seeing my average spending, which is a nice gauge. (I believe, however, it’s average spending of all data ….I’d love the feature to “create a trip”, allowing the user to segment the data themselves – by trip, country, or month).

I also just noticed that if you are in a country with a fluctuating exchange rate, you should regularly go into the settings and click on “update” to ensure the conversions are as accurate as possible.

I’m still learning new things about the app, and I’ve been using it for 3 months!

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7 Erin April 21, 2013 at 11:54 am

The trips feature is the next major update we’re working on and we are also looking into different ways of budgeting -some people have asked for the ability to add a budget for a trip (say $2000) and then have the app work out their daily budget automatically. It’s something we are looking into.

8 OCDemon April 21, 2013 at 3:18 am

I met a guy in Colombia that described how when you travel you just go all out and there’s no way you can resist overspending. He talked about how he’d consistently spend $200 a day even in the cheapest countries to be found. We simply couldn’t believe it, and pressed him to describe his daily budget, and after determining the cost of his hotel and 3 meals a day, we determined he was spending about $150 a day on drugs. It was one of the most hilarious experiences ever. I’d like to see that guy use this app and track his illicit purchases by category and analyze with graphs and charts and infographics. It would be amazing.

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9 theprofessionalhobo April 21, 2013 at 9:53 am

@OC – Ha ha! Well, we all have our vices, I guess. I’m impressed that with that sort of consumption, he’s even aware of his daily spending! Or any of his surroundings, really! I suspect the charts and graphs might be a little much for him. 🙂

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10 Frederic Hore March 19, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Budgets can get thrown out of whack very quickly by seemingly innocuous items, that at the end of the day, really add up. Examples that come to mind –
1. Fancy latteès at Starbucks or similar coffee houses (Amsterdam’s are expensive!);
2. Paying for single use bus/tram/train fare, when a pass good for several days or longer will save one even more money;
3. A penchant for going to museums – though nice, the entrance fees can be very expensive, especially in Europe;
4. Indulging in spur of the moment purchases of muffins, chocolate bars, chips, ice cream etc, that while providing instant gratification, but ill be bad for one’s health, and hurt your pocketbook too.
5. And of course, on the other side of the drug equation, drinks in trendy bars to get a feel for the vibe of a city, though nice, can once again be hard on the budget too.

Being a frugal traveller, I have a couple of mottos to keep my healthy, fit and on-budget:
1. It’s your money – use it wisely
2. Think healthy!

Cheers,
Frederic in Montréal

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11 Nora March 19, 2016 at 3:18 pm

Good mottos, Frederic! And you’re absolutely right about these seemingly small expenses adding up in the end. Keep that wallet – and your body – healthy! 😉

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12 Jill April 28, 2016 at 5:24 pm

Awesome advice. Thanks for sharing Frederic.

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13 Landon June 4, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Great app! I used the Trail wallet app every day on my multi-month trip around the world and really like it! We even use the history to help us remember what we did a week or month ago. Great design – A+ app!

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14 Nora Dunn June 7, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Landon – Glad you agree! It’s a shame that I now have a Windows phone; I miss Trail Wallet the most of all my iPhone apps!

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15 jay October 3, 2014 at 6:50 pm

I just spent 3 weeks in Turkey and wanted to track my daily living costs so that I could extrapolate out a long term budget estimate. This app was so easy and fun to use and loved the multiple currency input feature and pie chart summary.

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16 Nora Dunn October 3, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Hey Jay,
Glad you liked using it! Without an iPhone any more, I miss my Trail Wallet. 🙁

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