You might already use a smartphone app to manage your monthly budget, but what if you need a one-time budget for a vacation? When you’re trying to manage travel expenses, a mobile app designed to monitor your spending before, during and after your trip can help you avoid spending more than you’d like when you’re away from home. Several smartphone apps make it simple to create a dedicated spending plan for a single event, such as a vacation, and some provide options to link your app to credit cards and other payment sources. Using apps like these can help you organize your expenses and log your vacation-related purchases for review later.
Here are five of the best apps to create and track a trip budget for your next vacation.
1. Trail Wallet. Whether you’re backpacking through the rainforest or relaxing at a beach resort on the other side of the country, Trail Wallet helps you organize your expenses in just a few screen taps. The daily budget feature gives you details about how much you’re spending along the way. Just log your receipts and bills on the app’s “Quick Add” screen to keep a running tally of your daily spend. Check the detailed summary screen for a snapshot of what you’ve spent so far and switch between the amount you spent versus how much you budgeted to keep yourself on track with your goals. The free version lets you track up to 25 items. The $4.99 paid version lets you track unlimited items. Available for iOS.
2. Spent. This app can help you get paid for your budgeting efforts as you travel. Spent includes the familiar expense-tracking and budgeting tools — scanning of receipts, customizable budget folders, automatic downloading of transactions from linked credit and banking accounts — along with some quick and easy interface tricks to help you organize your expenses. Just swipe left to categorize an expense as “Personal” and swipe right to categorize it as “Business.” The app’s main draw is a cash back rewards program on purchases. You can link your credit cards to the app and just swipe your downloaded expense transaction to receive a cash back bonus when you eat at restaurants or shop at certain stores. There’s an online store affiliated with Spent that offers additional cash back rewards for purchases. Spent is free and available for iOS and Android.
3. Tripcoin. As you head off on your next adventure, don’t let the lack of a good internet connection prevent you from staying up-to-date on your expense tracking and budgeting. Tripcoin works with or without an internet connection, so you can rely on it in even the most remote areas. Use it to get a snapshot of all your expenses for the day, see how your actual spending compares with your budget and spot which spending categories are eating up your budget the fastest. You can also set up custom categories and custom payment methods to smooth out transactions while you’re on the road. Tripcoin supports more than 200 currencies and converts between them automatically using current market exchange rates, which the app downloads daily, or using custom ones you set. Tripcoin is free and available for iOS.
4. Trabee Pocket. You can label your budget for different trips and destinations with Trabee Pocket and switch between currencies with ease. One of the great features of this app is the ability to categorize your purchases as cash or credit, so you know how much you are spending on plastic. This can be especially helpful if you’re using a travel rewards credit card or another credit card that you plan on paying off later. When you get home, pull up a report of all credit card purchases, so you can pay off the balance on time. Trabee Pocket is free and available for both iOS and Android.
5. Splitwise. All the apps profiled here do a great job of storing receipts and tracking expenses for solo travelers. But what if you’re traveling with a group and need to split up the cost? That’s where Splitwise comes in. Add your travel colleagues to the app, set up a trip and let the app track who owes whom. At the end of the trip, settling up is easy — just use PayPal or Venmo accounts, accessible via the app, to transfer funds. Splitwise is robust enough to tackle tough bill-splitting situations, such as shared housing, and an optional iPhone add-on app called Plates makes splitting the bill at the restaurant easy, too. Unfortunately, Splitwise does not handle currency exchange rates as the other apps included here do. If you can tolerate that absence, the app is a good addition to your digital financial arsenal. Splitwise is free and available for Android, iOS and on the web.
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