I can break down how I budget my races into the following categories: Race fees, hotel costs, food, fuel, parking and a “whatever else.”
Six categories are pretty simple to work with. I always try to over-estimate than be under.
Let’s start with race fees because those are pretty up front. You know how much the race cost and there’s a processing fee on top of that which can vary in amount. This is pretty easy to estimate once you’ve seen the cost for the entry fee.
Hotels are pretty up front as well. You can shop for a good deal on any one of those websites. I usually use Expedia. If you shop in incognito mode you get better prices sometimes. Do read the hotel reviews; if they have a ton of bad ones or call it a “trap house,” you shouldn’t stay there.
Next, when it comes to food I just ball park estimate at $20 a meal and three meals per day. So I do the math for however many days I’m there and that’s how I get that total.
When it comes to fuel, I base it on current gas prices plus another $0.25 just in case it goes up. I figure out the distance I’m traveling and add in about 30 to 50 extra miles for getting around while I’m there.
Parking isn’t always an issue depending on where you’re at, but the larger your race, the more likely people will seize the opportunity to charge for it. Assuming you’re in a smaller urban area, your worst case scenario would be $20 a day “Special Event” parking.
Lastly, the “whatever else” category. Obviously this covers anything I buy not related to the other five categories. For instance things like race photos or souvenirs.
So far I’ve been under my budget for my races using this method, which is a good thing. Feel free to try it out if you think it’ll work for you too!