So you’re trying to save money for travel eh? WHERE ARE YOU GOING??? I may need to add it to my list. My parents just got back from Australia and to say I’ve been bitten by the travel bug would be an understatement. I’ve been DEVOURED!!
Budgeting for travel should be easy
Thankfully, I hate the headache that comes with crying so I won’t do it. Instead, let me just tell you all of my best tips about travel budgeting. 🙂
1. Budgeting for Travel should be value based, not goal Oriented
There is a lot of talk that goes on about goals… and rightly so, but I firmly believe that if you want to be successful at budgeting for travel & vacations, then you need VALUES not goals.
The problem with goals is that they are on a term limit. When you accomplish them, they are done. Game over. Next page.
Values on the other hand are life long. Here’s an example:
Goal: I want to see Machu Picchu. Execution: Go to Peru.
Value: I value experiencing different cultures with my husband. Execution: Peru, Italy, Ireland, France, Morocco, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, England, Alaska, Maldives, Tahiti, Denmark… Do you see?? The list is ENDLESS when it is value driven.
So sit down and hash out your values. That way, when you are travel or vacation planning, you can quickly and easily see if they line up with your values or if they are just fulfilling a spontaneous desire or mood.
2. Open another savings account for travel funds
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is the greatest piece of financial advice when it comes to saving money and budgeting. It’s really hard to save $2000 all of a sudden, but saving smaller chunks over time quickly adds up.
Personally, I like to add percentages to my travel account every pay check. The percentage differs based on our current needs each paycheck, but it typically ranges from 1% to 10% of our paycheck.
Since I started doing this, we have spontaneously taken a trip to Ireland, Canada and Moab, UT (twice) just because we had money in our travel account. If there hadn’t been money available, we would have just stayed home or struck out when we snagged our screaming deals.
Wait… what deals? 🙂
3. Sign up for flight deal alerts
One night I was up feeding my newborn, scrolling on my phone to keep from falling off the bed due to bone deep exhaustion when I came across an insane flight deal.
It was so good the thought that ran through my head was this: “I don’t even care if this is a scam because I won’t be out that much money if it is… and if it isn’t… THEN I’M GOING TO IRELAND!!”
(I don’t recommend making financial decisions based on poor judgment like that.)
But it wasn’t a scam, & I totally scored an awesome trip to Ireland. $179 RT from SLC (I know!!!!) all thanks to a flight deal company.
Here are some that I am subscribed to or follow and LOVE.
Pomelo Travel – My favorite!! They’ve scored me or my extended family dirt cheap flights to Ireland, Australia (Perth for that matter), England, & Hawaii. I’m telling you, their premium service is totally worth it. You can customize the region that flights depart from so you aren’t bombarded with emails about flights from across the country. #worthit!
Scott’s Cheap Flights – A TON of flights out of the bigger airports (ATL, BOS, LAX, JFK, LGA, etc.) which is nice, because you can often easily find cheap flights from your own airport to a bigger airport on your own.
4. Be willing to spend spontaneously on travel
This is honestly the biggest money saver when it comes to travel for us. But spontaneity can’t happen if there aren’t funds already available… so get that travel savings account set up STAT! Up until we booked, we had never even talked about going to Ireland before, but when there’s a deal there’s a way.
So! Set up that extra savings account dedicated to travel, and travel only, then be willing to spend it when those chances pop up. Often times the deals only last 24 hours or less, so you’ve got to be willing to act.
5. Get out of debt
Get out of debt. Such a short sentence… but an incredibly life changing action.
So, seriously get out of debt! Sooner or later, it’s going to bite you, and it’s going to bite hard. But besides that, it’s really hard to put money away for something (like travel) that isn’t essential when you’re living paycheck to paycheck, chained to consumer debt & burning the candle on both ends.
But going right along with this, what are the values you decided on? Is it having a huge house with the newest, fanciest truck? Or is it spending quality time with family?
If you truly want to travel, it will be easy to align your values so that you start working on eliminating consumer debt. I love what Dave Ramsey says: “Don’t worry about keeping up with the Jones’s! They’re broke!” And it’s so true.
what travel expenses do you need to budget for?
The saddest type of vacation is the one that you’ve planned out down to the very last penny. It’s just not how travel works!
There is no way to know right now that during your trip to China, you are going to run across a beautiful music box that you MUST have but don’t have a penny’s worth of wiggle room (true story).
Make sure you plan trip details under the amount of available funds so when you actually get there, you can HAVE FUN!!
Here are some things to consider:
Plane tickets, public transportation and/or car rental. Often your most expensive cost.
Hotels, Airbnb, Bed & Breakfasts, Hostels, etc. Think about your values here. Do you value a fancy place to rest your head, or just someplace safe to crash for the night? Budget accordingly. I prefer places in-between dumpy and luxury that serve breakfast so we can save a little money.
Can get really pricey really fast. This falls under our values though so we are OK with it. We like to experience different types of foods, so we often don’t skimp here. But what about you? You may be totally different and value saving money for activities rather than food and will go the sack lunch route. That’s totally OK! What aligns with your values?
Please make this section a HUGE priority. You didn’t fly halfway around the world just to sit in a hotel like a poor church mouse. Get out and explore!! You can often see how much a certain activity costs before you even leave for your vacation, but budget some extra cash, because there is so much you DON’T know about. And you just might want to squeeze something in… Like a spontaneous ride on a rickshaw through the back streets of Hong Kong. 🙂
I say “merch” because I feel like the word souvenir just means key-chain. Nope! Travel Merch is anything you want to take home. That delicious sauce you fell in love with at Powerscourt or that handsome jacket your hubby is eyeing at some random European shop… they all need funds.
A lot of people forget about this. Make sure you budget some extra money if something goes wrong at home while you’re gone or while you’re at your destination. From a flat tire to mother nature to a terrorist attack, this is the world we live in and you need to be able to pay for safety if you need to. Obviously your entire travel budget can suddenly be used for emergency funds, but it’s smart to have a little extra for the smaller emergencies that aren’t trip-ending.
Quick Story: I called my bank three times before we left to Ireland to make sure they knew we were going and to raise my daily debit card withdrawal amount in case of a major emergency.
When we got to Dublin I quickly found out that instead of increasing my daily limit withdrawal, it had been set at one cent. ONE CENT!!!
An honest accident or a sick joke, I don’t know, but we were stranded for seven hours until my bank opened back here in the states. I would say triple check (but see where that got me…) so quadruple check that your funds are accessible in case of an emergency. I can’t stress this enough.