How to Save Up for Travel, Big or Small

Is travel a value of yours? Do you cherish experiences over things? I know how you feel! I love to travel and see new places, and I make it a priority in my life. However, I often hear from other people that they wish they could travel, but they just can’t afford it. Of course, not everyone can afford to travel abroad on an annual basis, but that doesn’t mean that you will never be able to see the cities you dream of. If you plan ahead, you can afford to get on the road. Here are some ways to do that!

Plan out your trips ahead of time

It’s a dream of mine to be able to take advantage of an amazing travel deal and book a trip at the last minute. It sounds so luxurious to be free to travel whenever you want. But that’s not actually a realistic dream for most of us. (At least not yet!) So, in order to be prepared enough to take a great vacation, you should plan ahead.

Look at your calendar. What does the next year look like for you? Write down all of the obligations that you might have, especially those that include travel. It could be holidays, a friend’s wedding, your mom’s 60th birthday party, a trip to Mexico, etc. If you know what the year ahead looks like, it’ll be easier to plan ahead and not be strapped for cash when the time comes.

Determine how much money you’ll need

Once you have written down all of the traveling that you plan to do, start researching how much it might cost. These costs would include flights (or other modes of transportation), lodging (hotels, Airbnb, hostels), food, activities, and shopping. Overestimate how much you think you’ll spend, because you’re probably more likely to spend more than less.

If this big number seems daunting, break it down. How much would you have to save each month to make it happen? Does it seem more realistic when you look at it that way? If it looks like you won’t be able to save enough money in time to afford all the traveling you want to do, you might have to reassess your plans. Perhaps that trip to Europe can wait until next year. And look at it this way: with more time to plan and save up for a trip, the experience will be even better!

Set money aside each month

Put aside money every month in a travel savings account. I recommend automating the savings, so that you don’t spend the money before you can set it aside. Not sure how much to save? Take the number you came up with above and divide it by 12. That’s how much you should automate to go into your travel savings account each month. You can either have your bank deduct the amount from your checking account, or you can set it up as direct deposit through your employer.

Do you often feel tempted to spend your savings on everyday purchases? Put the money in an account that isn’t connected to your checking account. I recommend online banks like Ally Bank to my clients. Not only do online banks have higher interest rates than brick and mortar banks, but you’ll have a 2-3 waiting period before the money is transferred to your checking account. This will hopefully give you time to rethink if you really want to use the savings on something other than what it was saved for.

Save your windfalls

Did you get an end-of-year bonus at work? Are you expecting a hefty tax refund? If you don’t have important bills to pay off with that money, set it aside for travel savings!

It can be so tempting to just spend any extra money that comes our way, I understand! But would you rather that money go towards a trip you’ve been dreaming of, instead of towards things like going out to eat? I would personally enjoy drinking wine in Spain more than drinking wine at bar down the street. Plus, it will be easier to spend less money day to day when you know that your reward is travel that you can actually afford.

Where are you off to over the next year? Share in the comments!

This post was originally published on MaggieGermano.com and shared with permission.

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Maggie is a Certified Financial Education Instructor and financial coach for women. Her life’s mission is to give women the support and the tools that they need to take control of their money, break the taboo of discussing debt and income, and achieve their goals and dreams. She does this through one-on-one financial coaching, monthly Money Circle gatherings, and speaking engagements. Passionate about many issues affecting women, Maggie also serves on the board of Collective Action for Safe Spaces, is a member of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington’s Developing Leaders Program, and was trained as a salary negotiation facilitator by AAUW.