Is travel on your mind nearly 24/7 like me? I am here to tell you that it is okay. You can get ahead financially and travel!! Don’t believe me? Well keep reading.
Regardless of where you are in your money journey you should be saving for the things that matter to you most. To me that has always been travel. During our journey to become consumer debt free I saved for a trip to Hawaii, after we finished and were building our emergency fund I went on a solo trip to Paris, and now that we are savvy with our money we save at least $1000/month strictly into our travel fund.
With a backlog of passport applications, the cost of flights increasing, and having to navigate different COVID restrictions from country to country, traveling may sound totally complicated and totally expensive…but it doesn’t have to be!
Sound too good to be true? Trust me, I get it.
In another life Kevin said I should have been a travel agent because of how much I love planning and executing my plan for travel and vacation. I have experience in planning travel in a way that is budget-friendly and stress-free, and I’ve worked to compile my favorite tips, tricks, tools, and best-kept secrets for all things travel planning so that YOU too can see the world stress-free and on a travel budget!
How to Save for Your Trip
Are you ready to BOOK NOW?
Well I’ve got some bad news.
Unless you already have a savings bucket for travel I need to remind you to hold your horses. Step on to creating your travel budget is saving first (IF you have already saved a chunk of money and you want to just book skip to …).
You have to complete step one to get to step two, also see Delayed Gratification if you are having trouble with completing step one.
Okay, let’s get started.
1. Figure out your travel budget.
The first step to creating a savings plan is figuring out how much money you would like to save each month to reach the goal amount you’d like to use each year on trips. I always estimate high (Kevin loves that 😉 )
Determine what kind of travel you would like to do this year (road trips, festivals, family vacations, solo trips, stateside, coast to coast, international, etc.) or whether you would like to have money for spontaneous travel so that you can dip into your travel savings whenever you feel the urge to travel.
Once you’ve calculated how much all of that would cost you are going to do a SIMPLE but incredibly valuable calculation.
Write down the total you will need and divide that by 12. This will fully fund your travel expenses for an entire year. This is where over funding my travel savings never hurts, I always have enough money to spend on whatever I want to do and wherever I want to go.
For example: For our family I like to save $12,000 a year for travel (do I expect to use it all, typically no, but that gives me cushion when I want to get up and go somewhere). Therefore, I divide $12,000 by 12 months and save $1,000/month.
If you have a trip coming up soon you may need to alter your calculation. Write down the total for that particular trip and divide it by how many months you have before your trip. This will show you how much money you will have to save each month to afford your trip.
For example: You have a budget of $2,000 for a week-long historical trip to Washington DC (my daughters middle school trip) in six months. Breaking down $2,000 across six months means you will have to save $334/month to reach your goal.
I personally don’t like to save per trip (it feels more chaotic to me) so I do annual savings, but if you have upcoming trips and need to light a fire under your ass to start saving quickly refer to the second example. Then start using the annual savings when you have more time to save.
2. Open a specific savings account for your travel fund.
I highly recommend creating a separate savings account specifically for your travel fund. This can be linked to your checking account but the savings needs to physically be separated from all other money. This is because you will be less likely to spend that money since it is “out of sight, out of mind” in a separate account.
You can typically choose names for these types of savings accounts so name it something fun so that every time you open your banking app you will get excited and stay motivated.
You can change the titles as you go or stick with something more generic, here are some examples:
- Solo adventures
- Family fun times
- European escapades
- First time in Paris
- Safari quest
- Fund from down under
3. Set up automatic transfers.
If you are not the type of person who can diligently transfer money every week then you need to set this shit on autopilot. Listen, if you want your travel fund to grow before your very eyes, then this is the savings tip you CANNOT skip!
Once you have created a savings account for your travel fund, you can set up automatic transfers to the account to make sure that you are staying on track with your savings timeline.
Set these automatic transfers up to deposit the exact dollar amount you need to reach your savings goal. Not only will this make it as easy as possible to stay on track with your savings goal, but it will also reduce the temptation to spend the money that should be going to your travel fund as it is automatically removed from your regular account and moved into your travel savings account.
Seriously, set them up right away and watch your money grow!
If you are working on your annual savings goals consider putting your travel fund in a High Yield Savings Account (HYSA). An HYSA allows you to earn significantly more interest on your investments than a traditional savings account which can be particularly beneficial when you are saving for large expenses like a vacation.
4. Figure out what will keep you motivated to save.
Planning and saving for a trip can be incredibly exciting…at first. As weeks and months pass, setting aside money for a trip that is far off can become a bit lackluster.
Finding ways to stay motivated while on your travel budgeting journey will keep you on the straight and narrow of your savings plan and will make the whole saving process that much more enjoyable.
Some people use coloring in a chart or using stickers to visually track your savings progress. Then place this visual reminder somewhere that you can view it often so that it serves as a reminder of your goal to keep you motivated.
As you reach savings goals you could start to book aspects of your trip such as, purchasing your airfare, lodging, tours, rentals, cabanas, dinner reservations, etc. You can make this apart of your trip planning tradition especially if you are saving for one big trip. This will keep you motivated and keep you planning the trip the entire time.
If you are a Pinterest person you can start boards there to keep you motivated and research what you’d like to do on your trip.
5. Find ways to cut expenses.
Here are a couple tips for saving money on planned travel.
I love using Scott’sCheapFlights to find affordable and heavily discounted flights so that you can book your air travel at the lowest possible price.
Planning to rent a car on your trip? We’ve used CostcoTravel.com in the past to get reliable car rentals with a wide range of cars to suit all budgets, no cancellation fees, and incredible customer support.
Lastly, if you are looking for tours, museums, or attractions. Plan and book ahead of time. You can generally find discounted rates for the same ticket if you just book ahead of time or look for tourist/city passes. I could spend less than $500 for my family of three to have 6 full days of museums, food, wine/champagne, chateaus attractions and more. I can’t even get into Disneyland for six days for that price.
If you have any of your own tips I would love to hear from you, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can edit this to add more great tips.