If I Had $10,000: How To Plan & Budget For Your Dream Trip

How to plan and budget for your dream trip [petiteadventures.org]

🎶If I had ten thousand dollars, if I had ten thousand dollars… well, I’d buy a plane ticket.🎶

I mean, wouldn’t you?

While planning a trip can be a whole lot of fun, it can also be a whole lot of stress. Trying to travel to your dream location and tick off all the activities on your bucket list can cost quite a pretty penny, and that’s all before you factor in accommodations, food and the often high prices of entrance fees. Next thing you know, you’ve blown your budget and it’s not even the end of week one.

So today, I’m going to share with you some of the tricks and tools I would use to plan my dream trip, and how I would allocate my $10,000 budget.

Now, before we get going, I should mention that I decided to plan this trip for two because my partner seemed a little distraught when I told him he wasn’t fictionally invited (sorry, Dave, you’re invited now!) But really, he’s my favourite travel partner so any real or fantasy trip would see him coming along.

So, here we go: If I had $10,000…


For the purpose of this fantasy, I decided to look for flights in early-October, because travelling during the shoulder season lets me stretch my budget just that little bit further, and fantasy me still likes a deal!

Plus, I figure by October, I might like a vacation.

To source the best and most reasonably priced flights, I always turn to my favourite website (temptress and time waster) Skyscanner.

I love Skyscanner for many reasons:

  1. It lets me search without entering a destination, to allow me to see what deals are available on my travel dates;
  2. It lets me look at the whole month so I can see just what days work best for my budget; and,
  3. It lets me dream, dream, dream.

After scanning all my options, I settled on Japan. This is somewhere that has ranked high on my bucket list for a few years now, but always seemed just a little bit out of reach. But not in this fantasy!

I searched for flights for the whole of October and found a combo that saw us flying round trip Stockholm to Japan for just $905CAD per person, and giving us two weeks to explore the country.

Cha-ching: $905CAD/person

Japan - How to plan and budget for your dream trip [petiteadventures.org]


Once my flights are sorted, it’s on to accommodations. For hotels, I always use Hotels.com to source my options. The site allows you to zero in on a specific location or area and compare all the options and extras offered (free wifi, breakfast, airport shuttles, etc.), while also determining just how far it is from certain attractions or sites you want to visit. Hotels.com also hosts reviews from past visitors which is always helpful when you’re booking.

I also really like Hotels.com because you not only get a great deal when you book but for each night you stay, you earn a night towards getting one free later on down the road. After 10 nights, you get one night free! Not only do I get to travel now, but I’m also helping future-Kate save a little bit on her travels, which is a win-win in my books.

On this fictional trip, we were also able to save the cost of one hotel night because our flight is a red-eye. While I don’t always love taking overnight flights, they do come in handy in helping you save a bit here and there.

Cha-ching: $975CAD/person


I’m horrible at budgeting for food/drink, mostly because I like to choose restaurants on a whim and I NEVER make reservations when on holidays. For the most part, I tend to budget a per diem that should cover all three meals throughout the day. Now, this amount isn’t what I’m going to spend every day, but is picked because it’s what I think I should spend on average – some days will be more, but some days will be less. The goal is that by the end of the trip, I won’t have gone over the total amount, and I won’t have to limit myself to 14 days of McDonald’s.

Cha-ching: $1,050CAD/person

Sushi - How to plan and budget for your dream trip [petiteadventures.org]


To budget for ground transportation expenses, I use Rome2Rio. This site gives me a good idea of what it might cost to get from point A to point B, including the cost of getting to and from the airport both at home and in the destination, as well as getting around the country and cities that you’re visiting.

When I’m on vacation, I tend to explore mostly on foot and opt for public transportation over taxis every time – it might take a little bit longer, but I find it helps me experience more of the places that I’m visiting and allows me to stretch my budget just that much further.

For this trip, I also looked into the Japan Rail Pass, which lets you travel throughout the country on many of its rail lines. It’s quite a bit to spend up front, but if used enough is definitely worth it.

Cha-ching: $600CAD/person


I don’t like to pre-book my activities (unless they are free), but I do like to do research in advance, for this, I turn to TripAdvisor and blogs to build a list of ideas and options. Once I’ve narrowed down just what activities I might like to do, I set aside that portion of my budget. If it doesn’t end up getting used, then it’s back in the pot for other activities, meals, and even future trips.

For this fantasy, I allocated $1,000CAD/person for activities, including entrance fees to parks, etc. Honestly, this amount seems quite high for us, but I’d rather over budget than be shocked when I get home and look at my bank statement.

Cha-ching: $1,000CAD/person

Japan - How to plan and budget for your dream trip [petiteadventures.org]

Insurance & Incidentals

Insurance and incidentals are boring but absolutely necessary line budget items for any trip, no matter how long you go. You never know what is going to happen when you’re on vacation; this is why I always buy insurance before going away. For this, I turn to WorldNomads.com. They are fast, reliable, and easy to use. Plus, the costs were completely reasonable for all the protection we got.

Additionally, I like to budget extra money for incidentals or miscellaneous things I just didn’t consider, like the cost of exchanging money or having to buy or replace a certain article of clothing. Things pop up when you travel and it’s nice to know there’s room in your budget to handle them without having to sacrifice on any fun.

Cha-ching: $200CAD/person

In the end, here’s how my $10,000 trip budget broke down:

  • Flights – $905/person
  • Hotel – $975/person
  • Food/Drink – $1,050/person
  • Transportation – $600/person
  • Insurance – $120/person
  • Activities – $1000/person
  • Incidentals – $200/person

TOTAL: $4,850/person, or a grand total of $9,700

Phew – still $300 left to spend.

I had a lot of fun dreaming up this trip and where I’d go with $10,000, but I was also shocked at just how quickly that money disappeared.

Man, travel can be expensive. And, if you’re not careful, it can be so easy to break the bank.

When I budget for my travels, I like to over-anticipate what I will spend after doing my research. This almost always ensures that I won’t blow through my budget. This method also allows for a lot more flexibility, for example, the days where I spend less on food can help balance out some of those more extravagant, once in a lifetime meals you might have on holidays. The same goes for hotels, some cities are cheaper than others, which will help me stay on budget when I find myself in one of those more expensive cities.

No matter what my budget, by overestimating my costs, doing my research, and using any (or all) of the tools mentioned above, I can ensure that I satisfy my wanderlust and have the trip of a lifetime, all without going broke. If you do need a little extra help to make your trip one of a kind, you can check out personal loan options that companies like Earnest offer.

If you had $10,000, what would you do?

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How to plan and budget for your dream trip [petiteadventures.org]

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Please Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. All thoughts, feelings and opinions shared on this blog and in this post are my own.

All photos courtesy of Pixabay.com.


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