Estimate Travel Costs With Web App: Budget Your Trip

by Anil Polat · 7 comments

I recently came across Laurie and Bryan in an article on Career Breaks about their web application, Budget Your Trip. It’s a wonderful tool that’s incredibly useful for budgeting out costs for different parts of the world, and I love meeting travelers who enjoy doing a coding project or two. Laurie was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about Budget Your Trip, a tool you should check out if you’re trying to figure out how much to budget for your next trip aborad.

budget your tripHow can ‘Budget Your Trip’ help travelers do just that?

Budget Your Trip provides travelers with several resources to estimate, plan and track their travel expenses.

  1. Estimate – Budget Your Trip lets travelers search for travel costs by city, country and budget type. These estimates are generated from real world expenses provided by fellow travelers, so costs are up-to-date and reflective of what people are actually spending.
  2. Plan – Once they’ve registered, travelers can plan their personal travel budgets. The costs are broken down into categories (accommodation, food, etc.) and shown with tables and charts.
  3. Track – During and after a trip, users can track their expenses to see how much you’re spending and if they’re staying on budget. Graphs and tables break down costs by geographic location, category, and day. These tools help users understand where their money went and perhaps how you might better budget in the future.

Where did the idea for the site come from?

My husband and I spent most of last year traveling. We managed to see a range of countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. We kept a budget in Excel, but with currency conversions and random un-tracked costs, we were inconsistent. We decided to set up Budget Your Trip to help fellow travelers track their expenses for both short and long term trips.

While planning our trip, we noticed a lack of resources for predicting travel budgets. On every travel forum the most popular questions relate to how much a location might cost. We decided that Budget Your Trip would be the best resource to aggregate this information for fellow travelers.

How did you create and code up the site?

My husband and I both have a background in web development. The site is built with open source technology such as PHP and MySQL. We also use the GeoNames.org location database, Google Maps, and Open Flash Charts for the nifty pie and line charts. Finally, we felt it was absolutely necessary to have a currency converter, so we wrote that in as well. We thought about the specific issues that we encountered while traveling, and took that into account when creating the site to make everything as easy and simple as it can be.

Tell us a little bit about yourselves.

My husband and I have been avid travelers since we met in college ten years ago. We started with short trips in the United States, but over the years lengthened our time on the road as well as our distance from home. We got married three years ago and decided to spend a few months in Southeast Asia for our honeymoon. Shortly after that we relocated to San Francisco. Inspired by other travelers we’d met on our honeymoon, we started planning our one year trip around the world. We enjoy locations that provide an adventure and a unique culture so we chose diverse areas where we knew the dollar would go far. You can see our trip itinerary and travel budget here.

Since we’ve returned we’ve settled closer to family on the east coast. We’re still figuring out our next big adventure.

laurie bryan dogonHow do you budget your own trips – any secrets?

Since we enjoy traveling so much, we try to stretch our dollars as much as possible. To do this, we follow several rules:

  • Never make reservations. In many countries you get the best deals when you just show up. Consider where you’re traveling. Bartering is still a strong component of many cultures. Once you’ve made a reservation you’re locked into your rate and there is no room for negotiation.
  • Consider your destination and the season. Choose countries where your money will go farther (like India, Vietnam, or Costa Rica). If possible, travel in the shoulder season (between peak and low seasons) and your money will buy a lot more.
  • Lower your standards. Not the standards of your trip, but your expectations of the hotel and transportation. Travel like the locals on public buses or trains and stay at budget accommodations. Your experience may actually be more enjoyable if you get off the beaten path. You’ll meet more locals and immerse yourself in a new culture.

Where do you see Budget Your Trip going?

We’re hoping the website becomes the go-to resource for travel budgeting needs. As our website and the amount of data grows, we’re planning to make more sophisticated travel cost searches. In the future, travelers will be able to see costs for all locations by budget type (budget, mid-range, and luxury), group size (solo traveler, couple, and group), and trip type (personal or business).

Are you working on any new projects?

Based on our experience while traveling, we want to make Budget Your Trip easier to use when in a foreign country with a slow internet connection. We also want to provide a way for people to keep track of their budget while away from a computer or an internet connection. Later they would be able to quickly upload their budget information when they have Internet access.

Also, we’re working to bring additional tools to Budget Your Trip that will specifically benefit business travelers. While we intend to stay focused on independent travelers, we’re reaching out to a range of groups with different travel styles. In this way we hope the website will provide the most comprehensive and complete cost estimations.

On a more personal note, the Trans Siberian Railway is moving toward the top of our “must do” list.

Thanks again Laurie for the interview. Budget Your Trip is a free web tool that can help you plan and manage your finances for your next trip.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Barbara @ Hole In The Donut Travels March 28, 2010 at 01:21

I agree with their personal rules – I travel the same way – so I suspect this new site will be a big help. I’ll definitely try it out.

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2 Anil P. March 28, 2010 at 06:16

As the user base grows it becomes so much better at estimating costs, let me know what you think of it.

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