Are you planning to go on a trip? Travelers know it can get a bit hectic when you’re abroad, and expenses can spiral out of control. In these times, you can often lose track of the money you’re spending, which may put you in debt or make you spend more than you want.

Although budget tracking apps can get the job done, the free ones are littered with intrusive ads and the paid options can cost a small fortune.

In this article, we aim to provide you with a free, customizable, and usable solution on most platforms—using Google Sheets. You can create a spreadsheet that allows you to build a travel budget that is usable on both your smartphone and laptop. Read on to learn how to make a travel budget in Google Sheets with minimal effort.

Why You Need a Travel Budget

It is so easy to get caught up in all the adventures and food when you’re traveling. Even when you go to a cheaper country, those costs can add up quickly, which may even mean you have to cut your holiday short.

How to Create a Travel Budget Spreadsheet – The Basics

Before adding the formulas, we first need to create the row and columns containing our data. I will format the sheet by combining some cells for a better visual presentation. Note that you don’t need to do this. It just makes the spreadsheet more readable at a glance.

First, let’s add the days of the week and the dates. I’m doing this horizontally but feel free to do this vertically. Here are the steps to do this:

Click on the first cell to add the Day and Date label. I have combined the cells A1:B2 for better readability by highlighting them and navigating to Format > Merge cells > Merge all.
In the first row, enter the starting date. Note that you only need to enter the first date. You can then use the Suggested autofill feature to add the dates to as many cells as possible.
Similar to how we added the date, type in the day of the week and used the Suggested autofill feature to fill in the cells you want.

You can also change the Fill color by choosing a color for the background color from the top bar. Do this by selecting the cells you wish to color and then pressing the paint bucket icon.

Adding Expenses

Now we will write the expenses categories in the first column. We aim to track the costs for transport, food, accommodation, and other activities in this spreadsheet. This is where you can get specific with your particular trip. For example, your trip may have all transport expenses paid in advance, you likely won’t need to include them in your budget.

In the example above, I added food expenses like breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Then there are expenses like transport, accommodation, and other activities. Finally, we add a row that shows the total spent per day and then find a difference in the budget.

You could also add your totals in a separate part below the main table. This may help you set a daily budget.

Now is the time to add formulas to the cells to automate most of the spreadsheet. Here are the steps to do this:

  1. In the Total Spent section, click on the first cell, C10 in the example.
  2. There, enter the first part of the SUM formula, which is =SUM(
  3. Now, enter the cell ranges which you want to add up. In this case, it is the range C3:C9.
  4. Add a closing bracket and press Enter.
  5. To apply the formula to the other cells in the row, click the blue dot in the bottom right part of the highlighted cell and drag your cursor to the right to cover all cells.

In the Difference section, we will subtract the money spent that day from the daily budget from the specified total budget. I have also applied conditional formatting in the cell so that the cell is green if the money spent is under the specified limit and red if over budget.

Expanding Your Budget

If building your budget made you realize you may be a little short on funds, here are a few tips to make a little extra money before you leave:

  • Downgrade: Many of us have expensive tech we don’t need. For example, you could trade in your MacBook for one of the best MacBook Pro alternatives that cost much less.
  • Sell free stuff from Craigslist: People always list stuff for free on Craiglist. If you own a car, you can pick it up and sell it with better descriptions and photos for profit.

Wrapping Up Travel Budget in Google Sheets

It always pays off well to plan ahead. A well-budgeted trip helps you avoid unnecessary problems along the way. Creating your travel budget is the best option as you can easily specify what you want to add. You can also customize it to your liking. Creating the spreadsheet feels like too much of a hassle, so you can use the template.