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Travel Budgeting 101

How to Determine if You Can Afford Your Dream Destination

Back in the day, the question “Can I afford to travel to this place?” would pop into my head whenever I saw a social media post about a travel destination, or when I entertained the thought of traveling to another country.

So, how can we know if we can afford a travel destination? The answer is almost straightforward, well, at least for me. The majority of travel costs are related to transportation (flight, bus, or train), food, and accommodation.

Most of us know by now that we can search online for cheap flight or transportation tickets, and accommodations can range from hotels, motels, B&Bs, or hostels. But, how can we determine if we can afford the food costs in the particular destination?

Personally, I use McDonald’s restaurant chain website to check food prices and estimate how much I could potentially spend in the particular destination. Why McDonald’s? Because they are almost everywhere, except in North Korea, Bolivia, Ghana, Macedonia, Bermuda, Zimbabwe, or Iceland as of 2020.

can I afford to travel to...
McDonald’s – Brussels, Belgium

Choose your Favourite Brand:

Of course, I’m not suggesting that you should eat at McDonald’s during your travels, nor am I promoting their food. There are plenty of other food outlets to choose from, such as Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Five Guys Burger, Chili’s, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr, Jollibee, or any other international brands that you’re familiar with and that have a restaurant in your destination.

If you can’t think of any, zoom in on your destination city on Google Maps and look for food outlet symbols. Pick one that you’re most familiar with and check out their online menu (with prices).

McDonald’s Menu Board

For example :

You’re living in the UK (GBP – British Pound Sterling) and going to visit Prague (CZK – Czech Koruna).

For you to buy yourself a standard ‘McDonald’s Big-Mac Burger

On the UK website – GBP3.75

On the Prague website – CZK85.00 (or GBP2.70)

With this scale, you can check if you can afford meals in Prague. If your destination’s prices are lower, you can definitely afford the food there.

Now, compare that to Japan – JPY390 (Japanese Yen) or GBP2.93


Going to Bali (Indonesia) – Rp35,000 (Indonesian Rupiah) or GBP1.69

Well, you get the idea, and yes, that’s still affordable on my scale.


When planning a trip to a new destination, one of the biggest concerns is how much it will cost to eat. While it’s easy to find cheap flights and accommodation online, food prices can vary widely depending on the location. One simple trick to estimate your food costs is to check out the menu and prices of a familiar restaurant chain in the area.

McDonald’s is a good option to consider since they have locations all around the world, except for a few countries. By looking up the prices of a McDonald’s meal in your destination, you can get a rough idea of how much you’ll need to budget for food. Of course, there are other fast food chains you can choose from, such as Starbucks, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s. Simply zoom in on your destination city on Google Maps and look for food outlet symbols to find more options.

Keep in mind that the prices you find online may not be accurate or up-to-date, so use them as a general guide rather than an exact calculation. Also, note that food prices in airports tend to be more expensive due to taxes and high rental rates.

If you’re on a tight budget, try to find cheaper food outlets that may not be listed on Google Maps or have an online presence. Local supermarkets like Carrefour, Tesco, Franprix, and Auchan are also great options for affordable food.

In summary, estimating your food costs using the prices of a familiar restaurant chain can help you avoid overspending on food during your travels. By doing some research beforehand, you can enjoy your trip without breaking the bank.

Albert Heijn Supermarkets in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

We would recommend our readers try out the local delicacies (within reason, avoiding extremely exotic foods) as it’s one of the main reasons for traveling, especially when visiting a new continent or country with a very different culture from your own.

With that said, you don’t have to give up on the idea of exploring the world, visiting new countries, and learning about different cultures.