Many people think that in order to travel to exotic locations you must have the luxury of a trust fund available for use. Traveling doesn’t have to be out of your reach if you decide where you want to go, look at your daily costs in life, and create a realistic budget and time frame for saving for your trip. Little things can lead to huge savings.
Decide Where You Want to Go
If you want to travel, get serious about it and create goals. Maybe you know you don’t have the financial ability to take a round the world trip at this time but you can easily pick one country, or one city, you’ve been dying to visit. Two books that are excellent resources in helping you decide where you want to go are: The City Book: a Journey through the Best Cities in the World and The Travel Book: a Journey through Every Country in the World , both books from Lonely Planet.
When Are You Going and For How Long?
Your travel costs can depend on whether your destination is in their high season or low season. High season may cost you extra money because it will be when the area has the best weather and when tourists frequent the area the most often. Visiting a country in their low season will cut down costs. You may run into rainy weather but it’s up to you to decide if a little unpleasant weather is worth the lower cost or not. This will also depend on your activities as you travel if they’re dependent on the season. When can you realistically take time away from work? What obligations may you have to take care of before you decide to take off? What is a realistic timeframe for you to save the right amount of money? These are questions you should ask yourself.
Decide how long your trip is. Are you in a situation where you can easily leave the country for three months? Is two weeks the maximum amount of time you have for a vacation? Your job may dictate how long you can be away. If you’re not in a position where your job doesn’t rule your vacation time then think about your obligations: school, weddings, big family get togethers, and time away from significant others. You should think about what you need to get back to after your trip.
How much is it going to cost you?
Figure out where you’re going, where you’re staying, and activities you plan on doing while you’re on your trip. Budget for airfare, hotel/lodging, food, activities, visas, vaccinations, and any extra things you may need to buy before you’re trip. Planning on hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro during your trip to Africa? Then you should probably consider buying some good hiking shoes among many other things.
If you need help budgeting you can use the Travel Budget Calculator:
Start planning and cut costs
Make a list of everything your money is currently being spent on. Everything from rent, to toilet paper, cable subscriptions, anything. Below is a list of ideas to help you save money for your trip.
1. Stop paying for drinks (Starbucks, bottled water, sports drinks, soda). If you drink three drinks a week at an average of $3.50 a week you can save $546 a year.
2. Cancel cable.
Average yearly savings: Watch TV on http://www.hulu.com/ , http://www.casttv.com/, http://espn.go.com/ , or http://www.cwtv.com/ . Average weekly savings: $6.90 , Average yearly savings: $360
3. Dine at home.
Stop paying others to cook your food for you. It’s cheaper and healthier if you cook at home as opposed to eating out. Assuming you eat out once a week, you’re probably spending $10-$15 per meal. You could save $520 a year by eating in minimum.
4. Drink at home.
Instead of going out to the bar every Friday night with your friends, invite them over to your place. Drinking at home is much cheaper, especially when you’re average drink is $5-$8 out at the bar. Buy your favorite mix of alcohol or bottle of wine at the store and you’ll quickly see how much you can save by keeping it indoors.
5. Designate 2 days a week to no driving.
Carpool, walk, ride your bike, take public transportation. You’ll save money on gas you can put towards your fabulous trip to Zanzibar.
These are just a few options for you but as you can see, planning and saving for a trip is not as difficult as you may think. It’s all about thinking ahead, creating goals, and making a realistic budget for your life. If traveling is something that is important to you but you don’t feel you have the money for it, look back at your expenses and make your travel savings just as much of an expense as your daily latte or monthly cable bill. You will be surprised at how fast the money adds up and within 6 months to a year you could be on the next plane out of the country.