Does it seem like traveling always ends up costing more than you anticipate? Even if you drive instead of fly and make a point of staying at budget hotels, there’s something about travel costs that sneaks up on you. This goes for both leisure and business travel. There are certain tips and tricks for lowering costs during traveling, but what about saving for your next planned trip? Let’s check out how to travel on a budget.
Saving money is a skill that requires practice and the right direction. Unfortunately, it’s not a skill that many people are very good at—and that lack of skill gets passed down to the next generation. However, it’s never too late to learn how to travel on a budget. The first step in saving for anything is having a spreadsheet of your known income and expenses. Carving out an expense column (and perhaps sub-columns) for travel will let you easily save and budget for your next trip.
Consider all of the costs associated with travel. There’s transportation, which can include getting to and from the airport and various destinations, room and board, and reasonable costs for entertainment. Planning ahead, along with research, lets you figure out the most cost-effective times to travel. For instance, many tropical destinations have an off-season where you can score hotels and activities for up to half off. With some flexibility and planning, you can enjoy a fantastic vacation at a fraction of the price. Even better, there aren’t as many tourists during the off-season, so you’ll have more of paradise to yourself.
If you want to get serious about saving for your next travel experience, here are six ways to
Get started on How to Travel on a Budget:
1. Ensure your budget is clean and flawless.
Most people have a good idea of their income. This can vary if you’re a business owner, contractor, or freelancer, but you’ll still have an idea. Where many people get into trouble is with their expenses. It’s relatively easy to figure out the basics, such as rent or a mortgage, as well as average monthly bills. However, you’ll need to track other expenses such as how much gas you really buy, what you spend dining out, groceries, movies or concerts, and other incidentals such as coffee meetups and clothing.
Take a look at your various bank and credit card statements for the past year. Many of them allow you to easily sort expenses based on topic. If not, you’ll need to do some digging. This isn’t an easy or enjoyable process for many people—however, that’s an important part of it. It’s critical to know just how much you spend so you can figure out where you can save. For many people, it’s those entertainment “incidentals” that can be cut. The good news is that this has a silver lining because these funds can now be earmarked for travel.
2. Be conservative when creating your travel budget.
Assume the worst and hope for the best when it comes to budgeting for travel. You might be able to score an unbelievable deal by flying standby, but if that price isn’t a guarantee, it can’t go in the budget. Inflate travel incidentals such as dining out by around 20 percent for a more realistic plan. You can also use your travel budget columns to figure out more affordable ways how to travel on a budget. Particularly with groups, it’s often much more affordable—and fun—to have a road trip instead of flying everywhere.
3. Kit out your travel gear throughout the year.
It’s a budget buster to purchase a lot of travel-related equipment right before a trip. You’re in a rush, you’re spending en masse, and you don’t have time to research essential technology or easy, cheap organization options. Instead, make a list (it can be in the notes section of your budget) of needed or desired travel gear. This might include carry-on sized backpacks, solar powered chargers, or water purification pens for travel abroad. Some items might fall solidly into the “want” column while others, such as converters for certain countries you visit often, are an absolute necessity.
4. Adopt a cash allowance for everyone in the household.
It’s probably been awhile since you had an allowance, but studies have shown that people don’t use cash as quickly as they do credit cards. Hide your credit cards and give yourself a weekly cash allowance for items like gas, food, entertainment, or any other item that isn’t a fixed amount. You’ll find that you quickly become creative because you’re aware of exactly how much money you have to spend. Maybe you’ll ride your bike or take the bus instead of driving every day. That saves gas, is good for the environment, and you might save enough for a drink at happy hour with your co-workers. Having tangible cash is a fantastic way to re-learn the value of money.
5. Pick up a side gig.
Saving can also mean finding avenues for increasing income. Maybe you’re a certified yoga teacher but haven’t taught regularly. Asking to sub at gyms or offering private lessons is a great way to bring in some extra cash. Many people have skills, from graphic design to carpentry, that can be a fantastic source of income. You can even barter or trade to save more. From being a rideshare driver to looking into seasonal jobs, working more is one of the most obvious ways to increase your income. However, if you’re doing it just for travel, make sure to tuck these funds aside in a separate account where you aren’t tempted to spend it.
6. Practice good environmental practices at home.
You’re going to have to pay your heating and electric bill, but is it higher than it needs to be? Wearing lighter layers indoors in the summer means you don’t need to crank the A/C as high, or depending on a breeze with open windows can conserve energy. You can shut off certain rooms that aren’t regularly used or increase window insulation with easy stick-on protectors rather than swap them all out for costly ENERGY STAR windows right away. Little things like eating cooler foods in the summer, thawing frozen foods in the fridge to keep it from working so hard, and unplugging unused electronics (not just turning them off) can all make a difference in your bill. You might also want to ask your utility company about savings programs, too.
Saving isn’t most people’s favorite pastime, and with good reason. It doesn’t seem to be very fun! However, if you consider what you’re saving for, like how to travel on a budget, suddenly it can seem more like a challenge than a punishment. It’s also important to make sure your money is working for you. Look into high-yield savings accounts which are often online only, but still trusted and insured. Consider different investment opportunities to help grow your money rather than having it sit stagnantly. There’s no one size fits all solution for saving and budget travel, but with a little trial and error, you can certainly find a solution that works for you how to travel on a budget.