It may be your first trip away together or perhaps you’ve already been backpacking for several months. It can be difficult to talk about money with a loved one, but if you’re travelling together it’s important to be on the same page. It doesn’t have to be an issue, however, to budget your trip as a couple can be a lot more fun than you think.
Decide how to split the budget for your trip
First things first, you need to decide if you are going to have separate budgets, a joint one or something in-between. There are advantages and disadvantages of each depending on how you view finances as a couple. You may also factor in how long you’ve been together for and whether you already have joint finances at home. That’s not to say it will be the same on each trip as in the future you may decide one way works better than the other when travelling as a couple.
If you’ve not been dating that long, or you just want to keep track of what you’re spending individually then a separate budget may be the way forward. You can use your own personal funds to book the basics such as flights and accommodation. When it comes to spending money you can split it 50/50 or you may want to take it in turns. If you are splitting the bill, you might want to have a talk first about what your daily budget is each. If your partner eats more than you, or wants to eat at pricier restaurants then make sure you’re okay with this when it comes to splitting the bill. Or you may want to take turns at paying for things. For example, you pay for breakfast and lunch and your partner pays for dinner. Just make sure that it works out fairly whichever way you decide. Dinners are usually more expensive than any other meal hence why one person may have to pay for 2 meals to even it out.
Partially pooled funds
Having partially shared funds may be helpful for when you want to split the main bulk of the costs but keep your own individual spending money. Perhaps you know your partner likes to shop more than you do and you don’t want to foot their spending spree. It’s the middle ground and it’s generally what my partner and I do. We’ll book our flights, hotels and attractions and have a pool of money left over for food and transportation. All our own shopping though is bought with our personal money. If I want to buy makeup and clothes then I don’t feel guilty that I’m spending his money too.
If you are putting money into a shared pot from which you can draw you can use a joint account or credit card. Or most travellers split their funds between cash, currency cards and credit or debit cards. Either way make sure you’re both on the same page before doing this. So long as you know that you’re not going to run into arguments about who is spending what on your trip then you’re good to go. It can be practical if you’re planning to do everything together anyway. But on the other hand, not everyone feels comfortable putting in different amounts and acting like it’s ‘our’ money.
3 Top tips for budgeting as a couple
1. Make compromises
Between the pair of you write up a list of what is most important on your next trip. If you’re desperate to do a helicopter ride or white water rafting make sure there’s enough in the budget to do this. If you choose not to do something because of the cost, you may regret it later. This is especially true if you’re not planning to return to your destination for several years. Prioritise the most important aspects of your trip and cut the budget in other places to make sure it happens.
2. Don’t kid yourselves
My £10 a day food budget looks all well and good until I remember how much my boyfriend eats. There will be times when you have different needs and it’s important to factor that in. You will also find some times where you are going to say, ‘we can do without that’ and then buy it anyway. Make sure you factor in any incidentals into the budget for such occasions.
3. Have an emergency fund
If you can afford to have a safety cushion, then take a little extra cash for emergency situations. More than likely nothing will happen but it’s better to be prepared than not. If at the end of the trip you haven’t spent all your money you can decide to take it home or have a last-minute blowout. It may be the perfect chance to do something luxurious. Or if it’s not that much money even going to a nice restaurant is an added indulgence to finish off your journey.
Rio is a writer, blogger and self-confessed travel junkie who lives in the UK. Together with her partner Law, they run a travel couple and relationship blog.