So you’ve decided you want to travel. That’s great! Whether it’s a one week vacation or a year around the world, you’ll need to start by saving money to travel. First make a travel budget so you know how much you need for your trip. Then you can get started on the following money saving tips for travel.
Examine your current spending
How much money do you normally spend each month, and on what? Make a list of your fixed expenses, and then for one month keep track of what you spend on everything else. What’s your weekly grocery spending? How much do you spend on entertainment, eating out, shopping, coffee, etc.? I bet it’s more than you think.
At the end of the month, look back at that list. Separate the necessary items like rent or mortgage from the unnecessary ones, like buying new outfits or expensive coffee on your way to work. That way you get a good look at where your money is going.
Compare what you spend to your travel budget
When you start comparing each dollar you spend to what it could pay for on a trip, it’ll be easier for you to resist spending. Let’s say you’ve determined you need $3000 for that vacation you’ve been dreaming of. Since you’ve already worked out a budget for the trip, you know how much the individual pieces cost.
That $100 outfit is equivalent to five dinners in Amsterdam. Buying coffee five days a week for a month is equivalent to a pizza making and food tour in Rome. The memories you make while traveling will far outweigh whatever fleeting enjoyment you get from new clothes or expensive coffee.
Reduce your spending
The little things really add up. If you buy coffee at Starbucks on your way to work every morning, it might feel like a small expense, but $3 or $4 a cup quickly becomes a few hundred dollars. Instead of buying coffee out, make it at home in your own coffee maker.
Not a coffee drinker? What else is your money going towards that you can reduce or cut out all together? Do you eat out a lot? Start bringing lunch to work or cooking dinners at home more often. Invite friends over on Saturday night instead of going out for an expensive dinner. Even if you still want a few drinks, it’s cheaper to drink at home than in a bar or restaurant.
Instead of getting professional manicures and pedicures, do it yourself at home. Make use of the clothes you already own and don’t go shopping for more for a few months. Downgrade your cell phone plan and your cable package. Adjust your thermostat a few degrees. Find alternative ways to get around instead of driving so much. Get creative!
Sell your stuff
Ok, selling lots of your stuff isn’t for everyone, and certainly not recommended if you’re saving money to travel for a week or two vacation as opposed to a year long trip. But you probably have some stuff you don’t use anymore that you could sell on Craigslist, eBay, or at a garage sale.
Take a weekend and go through your closets, garage, basement, attic, whatever. Pull out anything and everything you don’t need or use anymore and see what you can sell it for. Even if you can’t sell some of your things, you can donate almost anything which not only helps others in need but also gets rid of the extra clutter in your house.
Get a side job
This won’t work for everyone, but if might for some. Do you have extra time you could use at a part time job to pick up a few extra bucks? Do you have a talent or skill you could offer as a service, either online or off? Again, you might need to get creative here, but there are lots of options out there, from baby-sitting to elance.com.
Get a separate bank account
If possible, having a separate savings account for your travel fund will make it easier for you to put the money aside and leave it alone. If it’s an account that earns even a tiny amount of interest, even better. Figure out how much money you can afford to put in your savings account each month and set up an automatic transfer so you don’t even have to think about it. Did you earn a little extra money this month from a garage sale or side job? Put it all in the savings account, don’t spend it.
Saving money to travel isn’t always easy, but there are tons of ways to do it. By looking at your current spending, reducing or cutting things out altogether, and finding other ways of picking up some extra cash, you’ll be on your way to that dream vacation in no time. It just takes a little discipline to reach your goal, but believe me, it’s worth any sacrifices you make along the way.