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When Travel Geeks Get Bored -OR- Fun With Google Sheets!

If you're like me, you know that travel planning is half the fun -- and what tool is more fun for planing trips than Google Sheets? None, I say!


I've written a little travel app in Google Sheets that does the following:

  1. Automatically calculates Euro costs to dollars at current market rate so that if you need to plan expenses that are only available as Euros, you can.
  2. Automatically calculates which days (Sunday, Monday, etc.) and dates you will be at each locale based on simple inputs.
  3. Automatically totals the cost of your flights, hotel stays, expenses and transportation based on simple inputs.

"That's amazing!" I'm sure you're saying (or slurring -- I dunno about some of you!), "How can I get a super-swell copy of this incredible feat of spreadsheet mastery?"

Simple! NOW you can click on the link, AFTER you're logged into your Google account. You won't be able to make full use of the sheet without a Google account. Make sure to open the sheet in another tab. Ok, got it open? Excellent! Alrighty, you want to click "File" then "Make a Copy". Name the copy whatever you want and save it to your Google drive. Open it from there so that you're able to edit the sheet.

"Alright, Mr. Smarty-Smart-Smart, how do I use this damned thing?" you continue, barely able to hold your drink (because of the excitement, not because you've been knocking back Tall Boys since about 10:00am).

  1. One the first sheet, enter the date of arrival according to the prompts at upper left. Over-write the values I've already put in. They're there for example.

  2. On that same sheet, enter the number of days you want to stay in Europe. Well, how'bout the number of days you'll ACTUALLY be in Europe as opposed to your ex-pat fantasy of moving to Paris and not going home.

  3. Same sheet; enter the number of dollars per day -- outside transportation, hotels, airfares, and large expenses -- that you want to spend.

  4. Now that you've done that, scroll down until you see the rows below the header row (the row where the columns are labeled: location, transportation method, hours in transport. etc.). You can probably figure out what to do from here, but you'll want to fill out the following columns:

  5. Location

  6. Nights (how many hotel-nights you'll be at each location)

  7. The cost per day of your hotel

The spreadsheet will calculate everything else for you.

Notice at the bottom of the data there's a cell (C7 and C28 on my sheet) that tells you how many days of vacation fun you have left to "spend". That way you can experiment with different number of nights in your locations and know how many free nights you have left -- or have gone over.

Click the tab marked "Costs" at the bottom of the spreadsheet. This will take you to the expenses. There's three categories: flights, expenses and transportation. Simply fill in the name of each item (you can see my examples) and the cost in Euros for each (except for flights: that's in US dollars; if a flight is in Euros, put it in 'transportation'). The spreadsheet will covert the cost into US dollars for you automatically at that day's exchange rate -- that's neater than St. Peter!

Once you've put in all your values (and cleared my values out) on the second sheet, go back to the first sheet ("Overlook") and you'll notice at the bottom of the sheet that you now have a running total of what your adventure will cost! Wow! That calls for another beer! Oh yeah, you'll want to clear out my examples on the first sheet, too, otherwise you'll get bad results.

(n.b.: If you're not really familiar with spreadsheets, this might not be for you. Also, it's more useful for planning longer trips with a lot of different locales than one-off shorties. Finally, if it eats your cat and sucks down your last beer, sue Rick Steves and not me!)

Posted by
9419 posts

I am pretty geeky so I will have to try this....before I start on a glass of wine. I have a template I use but little is so automated. Thanks!

Posted by
352 posts

Laurel and Acraven,


I added a new function to the spreadsheet: you can now enter hotel costs in euros or dollars based on a drop-down.

As always, the currency conversion is dynamic and changes from day-to-day based on that day's euro value.

Thanks for checking it out!

-- Mike Beebe

Posted by
219 posts

Thank you! I do often make a spread sheet of expenses, but I never created a template. I am looking forward to trying it!

Posted by
23550 posts

Dynamic Currency Conversion ... hmmmmm ..... where have I heard that before??/

Posted by
1845 posts

This looks like something I’d really like to be using for my travel but I’m one of those who isn’t too familiar with spreadsheets. That said, I’m still going to try to figure it out. You are certainly a man of many talents! Thank you for sharing your imagination, intelligence and expertise!

Posted by
352 posts


More than welcome -- if you have any questions, feel free to ask!

-- Mike Beebe

Posted by
770 posts

Hiya, Mike. I'm enjoying playing with your spreadsheet. I had to adjust the US-centric nature of it ;) by switching to CAD as my base currency and adding GBP and USD as additional foreign currencies. It was easy to do using your model.

As I prepay for various items, I just enter the actual converted cost in CAD but continue to show the value in original currency. It's very useful for that. It's interesting to compare it to the tracking spreadsheet I built for the for the real trip I'm currently booking, and I'm very interested to use it for pre-decision planning on the next trip.

Thanks for sharing!

Posted by
2768 posts

Thanks Mike. Interesting Google finance. I don't use Google docs, but do have an excel template. I could format the cell to convert, I guess, but I tend to just calculate it myself as rates can change over the course of buying. My spreadsheet even has a 'temperature' column so I know what clothes to pack for when.
I just calculated my expenses for a 3 week Spain trip. Love it when I come in under budget despite unused train tickets and added tours. I then calculate my per day cost with and without airfares included. I also calculated daily average expenses per city. Some were definitely more expensive than others....