Eight Steps for Growing The Best Travel Budget:
These eight steps will help you craft the best travel budget for all future trips. The whole saving money part of traveling can seem pretty daunting and some can’t imagine ever being in a place where they can afford it. Hopefully, by following these steps you will find yourself ready to click ‘purchase’ on that plane ticket.
Step 1: Plan Your Trip
You must be wondering why I would put this first. Shouldn’t you know if you can afford the trip before you plan it? Short answer: No.
Long answer: How can you make a travel budget for your trip if you don’t know how much it would cost? I think this is what trips many people up before they even get started. They assume that their dream trip is out of their price range so they don’t bother to invest time planning out a trip they already decided they couldn’t afford. Don’t give up before you start. Sit down and research your destination(s). Look up how much the flight will be from every airport near you and every airport in and near where you are going.
When I was gearing up to start my first backpacking trip I couldn’t find any flights to the United Kingdom for less than $1000 USD. On a whim, I looked into flights to Ireland and booked one for $800 USD. I then grabbed a flight to Scotland for $11 USD. Yes, you read that right. Only $11 USD. I was able to get to the UK with an extra $200 dollars in my pocket and all I had to do was look.
So look! Look at the average prices of hostels & hotels. Note the exchange rate. Look at how much you are expected to spend per day. Maybe shortening your trip or taking out a stop can make it more affordable. Once you’ve done your homework then you can set a budget that works for you. All the while you will feel confident that the travel plan you made will be a reality as long as you hit that goal. That is what will make your dream trip more tangible.
Step 2: Grab A Glass Of Wine And Take A Look At Your Bank Account.
You need to see where your money goes every month. How much money do you bring in? What about money going out? Is there an amount you tend to have left over at the end of the month? Do you have anything left over at the end of the month? Once you have a handle on your expenses you are ready for step 3!
Step 3: Put Your Expenses into Categories
Break your monthly expenses down into the following categories: Bills, Food, Recreation, Transportation & Miscellaneous. Nowadays, we automate our bills payments and swipe our way through life so we don’t really pay attention to how much we spend. By categorizing our spending habits, we can see where most of our money really goes. Do you spend the most on food every month? Is recreation the biggest drain on your wallet? Find out what is snatching up all your money and stopping you from spending it in Paris.
Step 4: Save Those Pennies
Now that you know exactly where your money goes. It’s time to figure out how you can spend less in every category. If you need some advice on how to do that try these twenty tips. I know there is only so much that can be done but even ten extra dollars saved is ten more than you had before. Separate the luxuries from the necessities. Don’t live like a pauper or make yourself miserable but cut out the things you know you will be just fine without. It might surprise you to find that you can live happily on less than you thought.
Step 5: Side Hustle
We covered the money going out but what about the money coming in? Is there any way you can earn a little more on the side? Do you have a hobby or skill that you can turn into cash flow? Can you pick up more hours at work? I was lucky enough to have an employer that let me pick up as many extra shifts as I wanted and because of the extra income, I was able to make my first backpacking trip possible. Talk to your boss. Become an Uber driver. Pick up some babysitting gigs for a few hours a week. Sell cute, crafty things on Etsy. Get creative!
Step 6: Open Another Bank Account
Get a separate bank account for your travel fund. This will make it easier to track its growth and make you a bit more accountable. If you have all your money in one place you won’t see it as spending your travel money when you make purchases. You’ll just be buying things like every other day. But when you keep your travel fund separate then you’ll be aware of the fact you’re draining your fund whenever you dip into it.
Step 7: Pay Your Fund First
Set up automatic payments directly into your travel fund. Just get that money out of your hands and forget about it. It doesn’t exist and it won’t be spent. Your fund will grow steadily every month and you can comfort yourself with the thought that spending that money today won’t be nearly as satisfying as spending it in Thailand.
Step 8: Don’t Forget To Live
You’re doing all you can do now. You have made your budget. A plan for how to achieve that budget. And you are holding yourself accountable. Eventually, you will reach your goal but make sure throughout all this you don’t forget to live. Cut some luxuries but they don’t all have to go. Keep doing what you enjoy and spending time with your loved ones. Don’t work yourself to death or become so obsessed with saving money that you stop showering to save on the water bill. Lord knows I went overboard myself when I was saving for my first trip and even though I loved my time trekking through Europe, now I wish I could say I loved the times before it too. So make sure you don’t shortchange your trip…or your life.
Good luck and Happy Travels!