Updated: Oct 11, 2019
A lot of people put off vacation time, even though they have time allotted to them because they believe that vacations cost too much money. And yes, some vacations, indeed, are very expensive. But most vacations are relatively inexpensive if you know how-to plan first.
When I speak to individuals about their travels around the world, it rarely is the expensive and extravagant trips that they talk about. Sure, staying in a high-end posh penthouse suite in Vegas is exciting on the surface, but rarely does the conversation go beyond just that.
The vacations people talk about most are the authentic ones that involved real experiences in culture, history, the environment – the ones where you truly get to know the place you are visiting and experience it as a local – not as a camera strapping tourist.
Perhaps you already have a bucket list of places you would love to visit, and you have already researched the cheapest flights, where you would like to stay and what tours or experiences you would enjoy doing while there. You scroll down your bucket list and you see a destination that is one that you think you could do within a year, but then you check your bank account and it stares back, blankly.
Now this is where people just give up. How can they afford to get to that bucket list destination, while holding down a mortgage or rent, student loans, car loans, credit card debt, bills, taxes etc?
Many will feel defeated and that is why people simply accumulate vacation days. They figure they will spend a day here, an extra long weekend here and do things that need to be done – you know, mow the lawn, clean the house.....check Facebook.
Of course these things need doing, but these things are taking precedent over your dreams. Mowing the lawn and cleaning the house should not envelope your dreams. But it does because the next step is where people fail the most.
It is because you need discipline and commitment. And as humans, generally, when we need to fit ourselves into a habit, we resist. When commitment is difficult at first, we resist. It is simply much easier to tell ourselves we can't afford something and that it is just a pipe dream than it is to follow self-guidance and commit to change. Mowing the lawn on a day off is, what we tell ourselves is good enough and all that we can achieve.
Is that true? Do you honestly believe you were meant to take a Friday off and go home and mow the lawn and do the dishes and call it “vacation”?
I bet you said no, but you are making excuses right now as to why, even though you don't believe that, that that is just reality – it is the way it is. Besides, you don't have money to travel. Right?
Now, let's get to the part that is going to change that.
Even though travel does not have to be expensive to be rewarding, you are still going to incur costs and depending on where you choose to travel and what you plan on doing you are going to need money. Let us look at ways to get you start saving for your dream vacation.
Tip #1: You Can't Save Without Knowing What You Spend. You don't need to be an accountant, but you do need discipline with this tip. Track your expenses, no matter how small and categorize them into areas such as food, entertainment, rent, loans etc. Etc. There are several software programs and apps for your phone that can help you out. Track every penny and then look at the overall picture to see where your spending habits are taking away from your real dreams.
Tip #2 Set a Financial Travel Goal. Research the dream vacation you want to take and get a sense of what it will cost and add 20% to it for unexpected costs and pocket money that either you will spend on this trip or save for the next! Now round this figure up. It does not need to be exact. This figure will be your financial travel goal. For some this may be as low as $3,000, and for others it could be $10,000.
Tip #3 Make the Goal a Reality. This may sound weird, but envision the goal, envision the goal being made. In your mind, see the money in the bank, the plane ticket, the beach, the waterfall, the cruise, the castle...the dream. Continue with this mindset. Place photos of your dream vacation as your screen saver and talk to your friends and family about the location. Keep it relevant and believe you will go on the vacation. Being open and talkative about your dream vacation may have other benefits as well (see tips #8 and #9)
Tip #4 Set Up a Travel Savings Account and an Automatic Withdrawal. Having a separate savings account specifically for travel lets you see your progress towards your travel saving goals. Having an automatic withdrawal from your regular account to your travel account ensures you save to it regularly. $20 a week is over $1,000 a year. $100 per biweekly paycheck is $2,600 a year. Direct funds into this account on a regular basis and give it a bonus deposit when you can.
Tip #5 Save Money Day to Day. How you save money will depend on your lifestyle but make it a habit and a daily practice to save money each and every day – no matter how small. Find ways to cut back $5 a day to contribute $25 per work week over and above what you already plan to save based on your budget. If you buy lunch and take taxis every day, $40 a day is a possibility for you. That's $800 a month!
Tip #6 Cut Out the Fat. You can save a decent amount if you look at your needs and wants. Obviously you are going to need to have a roof over your head and there is going to be expenses for food. But think of the things you don't really need. Do you really need television? Do you enjoy living vicariously through television shows or would you like to make your own adventures? You can now watch nearly every television show on the internet if you still can't break away from the tube. Now, think of other things – do you really need the latest phone? Do you really need high speed internet? Do you really need to go out and eat or can you cook that same meal at home for next to nothing? Do you need to go to the movies with friends or can you invite them over and watch Netflix in a more social environment that does not cost so much? Do you need the gym membership or can you do a similar health routine on a bicycle or by hiking and enjoying sports in the park with friends? There are countless things you can cut out here that will make a huge difference in the amount you save.
Tip #7 Pay Off Debt. This should always be your number one priority if you have debt. The less debt you have the more money you will end up with. Travel Credit Cards with reward points and options are great, but make sure you manage your debt accordingly. Never hold a balance – the amount you will pay in interest alone will knock your savings back considerably.
Tip #8 Ask for Money. Rather than gifts, ask family and friends to give you money for birthdays and other special occasions. Tell them your goals, they might pool their money and give you enough money for a flight or a hotel stay. They can put it in a brochure to make it a little more personal. Not everyone likes giving money but when it helps make a dream come true, people will be onside.
Tip #9 Share Your Dream. Remember when I said to tell everyone about your dream vacation and how you are saving to get there? Share the dream and ask friends and family if they want to do the same. Solo travel can be more money – so having someone share expenses like a hotel room or a taxi will ultimately make your dream vacation that much cheaper and the best part is – you'll enjoy it with a friend!
Tip #10 Find a Freelance Job. Everyone has some spare time in them and freelancing is a way to use what you know and enjoy doing, in the time you have available to make extra money. There a ton of freelance positions available online. With minimal start-up costs this may be an excellent way for you to start saving more money and making money while traveling - another possible reality! I sincerely hope that you consider these ten tips and commit to finding ways to make your dream vacation a reality. It will be difficult at first, but once you set a routine in place, and make a commitment, you will find that it is easy and you will be off on a real vacation in no time.
Look for an upcoming guide that will help plan for the cheapest vacation and how to save money while on vacation. Remember any money that you can save and not spend on vacation goes directly back into your travel savings account and gives you a boost for your next bucket list vacation!
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