Having a lack of budgetary knowledge/experience can be detrimental to the burgeoning traveler. Without that knowledge, when cost comes into the equation, we think to ourselves, “I’ll never be able to afford this trip.” That one thought, though, is like a poisonous snakebite. It permeates and eventually destroys any desire or hope we had for an adventure. This article (which goes hand in hand with our previous post: Travel on a Shoestring) will discuss ways with which to save money and make that dream excursion a reality.
Evaluate your current situation. How are you living? Where is your money going? Make a list, a monetary flow chart if you will. That way you see it all before you. And be brutally honest with yourself: Do I spend an obscene amount of money on dining out? Am I getting my hair professionally done every week? Do I go to the club on the weekends and pop bottles that cost as much as, or more than, my car insurance? Do I spend more time at the mall and in boutiques than in my own apartment?
Live Simpler. Now that you have an understanding of how you live and what eats up the majority of your money, it’s time to make some adjustments. Cut out the unnecessary. Cook more. Take your lunch to work (or school). Maybe relegate your clubbing to once or twice a month (perhaps cut it out completely in the months leading up to your trip). Have nights in with your friends (potlucks, movie and game nights… the possibilities are endless!). Learn how to manage your own hair, and visit the salon only for things that require expertise (For example, I haven’t been to a barbershop in over 5 years; I learned how to trim my own hair; $20/week remains in my pocket). Stop purchasing trends and think about longevity. Be wise with your purchases. Live less in the moment and more for the long run.
Open an interest-bearing savings account. You’ll be surprised with how much you will have saved just by living simpler. Now, take that money and put it into a savings account (especially if you’re not good with having extra money at your disposal). Designate a certain amount from each paycheck to be deposited. What’s more, try and save $5/day— in a year, it adds up to $1,825, a substantial amount which, in itself, could fund a spectacular trip.
Pick a destination you can afford. Now that you’re more attuned to where your money is being funneled, you should be able to determine what you can and can’t afford. It’s as simple as a couple clicks of the mouse. What are plane ticket prices looking like? What’s the currency worth where I’d like to go? What’s the average cost of accomodation? How’s the cost of living compared to my own? What do I want to do on this trip? For what do I need money upon my return? These are all questions you need to ask yourself before you make your trip official.
As said before in a previous post, it’s all about prioritizing. Sort your life out. Decide what’s important to you. If traveling ranks high on that list, make it happen. I’m not saying cut everything out of your life 100%, but it’s definitely worth cutting back. The best things in life come from sacrifice! Let’s be real: the same way we can eat out every night, go to the mall and spend an entire paycheck on a new fall wardrobe, make it rain in the club— or even pay money for the premium cable package each month— we can find a way to see the world if we really want to. Happy travels! -VJ