Dear Tina and Rob,
The budget for each country provided by Chris and Diana should be considered as food and lodging only. Entertainment (including excessive bar bills) and transportation should be budgeted separately (although I usually lump ground transportation for buses and taxis into my daily cash budget).
As an engineer and micromanager (I had to in order to know whether I could retire at 55 even though I had three kids going to college) I have spreadsheets for both my home budget (projected forward for 20 years) and each trip I take.
The travel spreadsheet has columns for:
- the date, the from, via and to destinations, means of transportation and reservation # and departure and arrival times, the cost of the transportation; and what I plan to see along the way and each day.
- hotel name, reservation # and cost for each night;
- food cost; and
- type of entertainment, including shopping, and cost for each item.
If I don't make reservations for transportation or hotels to allow for greater flexibility, I provide an estimate based upon the average price for such from transportation and hotel/hostel websites or guidebooks.
For food I always provide a daily estimate...some days I go over which means the other days I have to stay under.
When I draw cash from an ATM I do so based upon the estimated cash, non-chargeable expenses for the next week or so. I use my credit card whenever possible, and keep the receipts, so that I have a record of my expenses...keeping track of where my cash goes is impossible. I can easily go over budget by withdrawing cash for a meal and then charging it. While this is useful for saving scarce cash, you need to know what you are doing to your budget.
The timing between cash withdrawals is dependent upon when I will have access to another ATM, how long I will be in the country using that currency, etc. If I withdraw cash earlier than the date for which I had already withdrawn to meet the estimated expenses I know I am going over budget and I really need to spend less, or adjust my budget upwards for following weeks if I can afford to.
Hope this helps. Bob