CNN noted cost as one of the main reasons why Americans don't travel abroad. The cost of travel has risen a lot in the past few decades, yet more people are traveling in general. When I talk to people about places that I've been to, I often get "oh, you're so lucky! I've always wanted to go there!" as a response. And my response to that? YOU CAN GO TOO! Yes, you can. With enough determination, perseverance, and self-control, you can save up the money to go to one of those places you've always wanted to go.
How To Save For Your Dream Vacation
- Decide where you're going! - This should be the obvious first step in planning your vacation. Certain destinations will be more expensive than others, but do your research first. I cannot tell you how many times people have told me that they want to go to London, but opt not to because "it's so expensive." You don't have to be spend a bunch of money in London if you don't want to. Do the proper research and you can have a great time in London (or any other "expensive" city) without spending a ton of cash. Deciding where you're going will also dictate the duration of your savings timeline.
- Cut out unnecessary spending - If you go out to lunch every day or most days, then save the money and pack your lunch. I know that lunchtime can be a good social time with coworkers - there's no reason why you cannot bring your lunch to the restaurant and still enjoy your coworkers' company. Or if you're a coffee fiend, make your coffee at home rather than dropping into Starbucks.
- Tell your money where to go - As with any budget, you should know where every last dollar is going. Set up a Vacation fund and set aside a certain amount every time you get paid. The amount depends on your income, paycheck frequency, and your destination. Treat it like a bill and pay it to your savings account.
- Decide what matters most on your vacation - Basically, what will you allow yourself to splurge on? For me, I don't mind spending more on food and experiences (i.e things that I cannot do or get at home). So, I don't mind staying in less-than-luxurious accommodations. If you like nicer accommodations, then budget more money for that than you would for dining out or visiting certain cultural sites. I slept on a very basic (and uncomfortable) bed in a hostel in Oughterard, Ireland, but I also got to experience small Irish town life and ate some of the best Irish food at the local pub.
- Always look for flight deals* - Travelocity, Expedia, TripAdvisor, and many other sites will list flight deals. Check early and often. If you notice the fares rising, check in a private browser to see if they lower. There are also some deal sites that will take advantage of certain hidden discounts, depending on how you book. *Make sure you know what you're getting when you book through these sites. Check your seats (if assigned), the inflight amenities, inflight entertainment offered, refundability, etc. No one likes a surprise at the ticket counter or gate!
- Use your talents - Do you have a useful skill/talent? Use it! Set up a side project and dedicate any money made from it to your travel budget. Every little bit helps!
- Consider alternate accommodations - I'd never stayed in a hostel before my Ireland trip last May. Now, I swear by it. Going on vacation doesn't mean having to spend a lot on hotels. AirBnB, VRBO, HostelWorld, and other accommodation sites have become popular over the last few years. Hostels provide cheap accommodations for those who want to spend their time experiencing the city. Listings on AirBnB and VRBO give a wide range of options for travelers - private room, entire house/apartment, etc. My husband and I did an AirBnB in Paris last year and we loved it! We were in a studio apartment, close to the Métro, grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants. And we spent half what we would've on a hotel room for a week.
- Plan for "down" days - If you're like me, you enjoy cooking your own meals more than dining out. One of the reasons we did an AirBnB in Paris was so that we could cook some of our own meals. This helped out our budget a lot. Because dining out for three meals a day for six days adds up quickly.
There you have it. Just a few tips for saving for your next vacation!
Here's to crossing places off of the bucket list,