I’ve now been travelling for almost two years and the tracking of my expenses has been, well, less than ideal. Or accurate. My method typically involves a panic attack every time I check my bank balance, followed by several minutes of hyperventilating while attempting to calculate how much I’ve withdrawn from ATMs over the past month.
After travelling for so long without a phone (I sold mine just before I left), a few months ago I finally gave in and decided to buy an iPhone 5. After spending several hours getting my phone ready for travel and kitting it out with some of the best travel apps, one of the main things I found my phone to be lacking was a decent app to track my expenses.
I mean, sure, my method is fine for roughly estimating how much I’m spending each month but I wanted to be more accurate. I wanted to know what exactly I was spending the most money on.
So, how is it?
Trail Wallet is an app designed for travellers that gives you a way to quickly and easily record and track your expenses on the road.
The app is easy to set up — when you first use it, you can set yourself a daily budget to track your expenses against, choose the home currency you want all of your data to be shown in and select the currency of the current country you’re travelling through.
Recording a new expense is fast and simple. In fact, when you launch the app the “add amount” screen pops up automatically and all you need to do is enter in the amount, select the category and hit save. There really is no excuse for not tracking your finances when it’s that straightforward! (You can also switch this feature off on the settings page)
The summary page of Trail Wallet shows all of the important data on one screen. It features the total amount spent for that day as well as your running total for the month, your average daily spending compared to the budget you’ve set yourself, and the percentage of your total budget you’ve spent so far.
I found Trail Wallet to be especially useful for travellers as you can use as many different currencies as you like and the app will update the exchange rate each time (you need an internet connection to do this) and show your overall summary in your home currency.
This is especially useful if you’re travelling quickly and dealing with more than one currency over a short period of time — no more annoying exchange rate calculations are needed!
The newest version of the app now features custom categories so you can add plenty of different categories to suit your needs and also assign a colour to each one.
My favourite part of the app is the interactive pie chart, which gives you a visual representation of your budget breakdown and makes it easy to see which items are costing you the most. You can tap on any section of the pie chart and it will bring up information on that category and its percentage of your total spending.
Another nifty feature is the pull-up tab at the bottom of the screen that allows you to instantly view any previous months’ data.
A few other handy features include being able to add your expenses without needing an Internet connection, the ability to email a csv file of your tracking history to yourself, and the option to share your daily expenses and average spending on Twitter so that you can share with your followers how expensive a particular country or time period has been.
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I’ve tried a lot of expense tracking apps over the past few years, especially when I first began saving up to travel. Despite having good intentions, I was never able to stick with them for more than a couple of days — at which point I’d forget all about them and they would remain untouched for months.
Because Trail Wallet is super easy to use, fast, and has a fun and beautiful interface I’ve found myself tracking all of my costs for the past couple of months — and actually enjoying doing so!
For me, being able to check if you’re on track to meet your budget for the day and see how much of your monthly budget you’ve spent has actually encouraged me to cut down on my spending and I’ve found that my average costs have reduced since using Trail Wallet!
Is It Worth It? Are There Alternatives?
In my opinion, the one thing that Trail Wallet lacks is the ability to track your income as well as your expenses. I work online as I travel and so having the ability to track both simultaneously would be useful — but for most travellers this app has everything you could possibly need to keep track of your costs.
As far as alternatives go, another option is Money by Jumsoft, for Apple devices. For the same price as Trail Wallet you can record and track a whole wealth of information, including your income. There is, however, a learning curve with this app, the interface is cluttered and the sheer number of the options is quite daunting.
Unfortunately, Trail Wallet is currently only available for iOS and so for the Android users among us, some of the best budget tracking options include EasyMoney and Toshl.
In summary, if you’re looking for a simple, intuitive, actively developed app to keep track of your expenses on the road, Trail Wallet is an excellent option. It’s definitely worth the $1.99 price tag.
Images via Voyage Travel Apps