If you are anything like me, then you know it’s so incredibly hard to save money. Almost impossible, actually. I find that every time I attempt to save, some random, sometimes unexpected expense comes my way. But, like most things in life, Adventures usually require money. Unless you are striking out into the woods (and by all means, have an amazing time. I’m jealous.) when you travel you need money for transportation, lodging, food, souvenirs or collectibles, and probably a plane ticket. So how does one save for such an excursion? I’m about to tell you.
1. Plan WAY Ahead of Time
Probably the most important, so we’ll start with this. The farther in advance that you plan, the less you’ll have to save per pay check. For instance, traveling out of the country for about a week can easily run you around $2000. Approximately $1200 on the plane ticket, leaves you with $800 to split up for lodging, food, and travel for the week. It’s doable, and if you stayed in hostels, you probably wouldn’t spend it all. But if you are leaving in say, 3 months, then you should plan on saving around $670 a month. Yikes! No thank you. But plan a year in advance and that number drops to around $170 a month. Much more doable. And the farther out you plan, the less money you have to put away. Even if you can only save $20 a month, that’s still something, and that’ll add up before you know it.
2. Put Away Small Amounts All Along
This goes hand in hand with the first point, in that it’s SO much easier to part with small amounts over time then large amounts all at once. That being said, any extra money you may have each month should go into savings for the trip. If you use cash a lot, random change can add up very quickly, so hold on to that. Growing up, my father always had a bucket for change that he would dump out of his pocket at the end of the day, and by the end of the year that change would contribute quite a bit to our family trip. You’d be surprised how much change you might have lying around.
3. Avoid Shopping Splurges
It doesn’t matter if you spend your money on clothes or not, I’m talking all kinds of shopping (like Mike and his many video games). Saving for a trip can take some discipline. Now is not the time to be buying that random thing you saw advertised once and just have to have. Save that money and buy something more unique when you are abroad. It’ll mean more too, because it will always make you think of your trip.
4. Do Your Homework
Research the area you are going and make sure you are getting good deals. Maybe the hotels are great where you are going, but maybe the Airbnb options are a little better for the money. Figure out the exchange rate and any sort of money related customs you might encounter (like tipping at restaurants. That one always throws me for a loop). Make sure you can actually afford to go where you want to go before you start sinking any money into it.
5. Make the Big Purchases First
Plane. Ticket. I don’t know why, but I just don’t have the luck of finding cheap airfare. But once you have bought your ticket, your biggest purchase is (likely) behind you. Now you know you can at least get to your destination, and the rest will fall into place. Also, having a plane ticket makes your trip so much more real. Now you are officially going, and now is the time to get excited.
6. Figure Out Food and Transportation Later
If you have a way to get to your destination, (as mentioned in the last point) and you have a place to stay, that’s really the most important part. If you are buying train tickets that might be expensive, by all means, buy those early on. Otherwise, you will probably pick up a cab whenever you need it (though usually we do a lot of walking when we travel) and food can be found once you are there and walking around. Don’t fuss over the small stuff and remember that not every part of your trip needs to be planned out to a T.
7. Put the Money In Saving
Mainly, just get it out of your checking account. As soon as that pay check comes in, take out your allotted amount, put it away, and don’t touch it until trip time. It’s an easy way to trick yourself into thinking you have less money to spend. Because when I see money in my account, even when I’m trying to save, I always think “I can buy another cup of coffee and that’s not gonna hurt my savings that much”, and before you know it, that cup of coffee turned into 3 cups of coffee, a night out with friends, and my groceries for the week. And suddenly I’m shocked that I don’t have enough to save for that month. Better to be out of sight and out of mind.
8. Save More Than You Think You’ll Need
Probably the second most important one, so we’ll end on it. Plan out all your finances for the trip, make sure you can save that amount, and then save more. You never know when you’ll get lost and need an emergency taxi ride, or if things are actually a little more expensive than you imaged. Whatever the case may be, unexpected things always come up on a trip and you need to be prepared. Always better to be safe than sorry.
Saving for a trip take a lot of time and planning, but it is so so worth it. Money put into traveling is money well spent.
How do you save for big expenses? Any pointers that you would include?