Many people love to say that travel is an experience that is accessible to everyone, but the reality is it isn’t – at least not as quickly and easily as social media would lead you to believe. For many people jetting off to destinations near and far several times a year – and for some even once – is a luxury that is thwarted by many factors ranging, but the one at the top of the list, money.
With 1 in 3 Americans barely having $5000 saved for retirement, it’s safe to say that travel money isn’t exactly flowing free. Money is tight, but travel dreams are plenty, and it’s easy to feel discouraged when it seems like everyone is on vacation all the time. First of all, they’re not. Second, travel is a journey and not a race. Just because you can’t go this year or this month, doesn’t mean you should feel bad or feel like you’ll never get there.
If you’re serious about making your travel goals a reality, all you need is a little time, sacrifice and planning. With these simple tips, you can save money on your terms and get one step closer to the vacation of your dreams.
Add Travel to Your Budget
If you want to reach your travel goals, you need to make travel a priority. Most of us don’t include travel expenses into our monthly budgets, but that’s one of the easiest ways to make sure we put funds aside. Sign up for digital savings accounts like Ally Bank to keep your travel money out of sight and out of mind. Adding between $20 and $100 to your fund every paycheck can add up and get you to your goal quickly. Stay focused!
Cut Out The Extras
We know, we know, you’ve heard this one before, but that’s because it’s a tip that works. Giving up the things we love is never easy, but when you’re trying to save for the trip of your dreams it’s a necessary evil and the best way to beef up your travel savings. Start a spending journal, and for 30-60 days write down everything you spend money on, no matter how small. Keeping track of your spending will show you exactly where your hard earned money is going, and at the end of the 30-60 days, you will be able to see clear as day what things you need to cut back on, and what things you simply need to cut out.
Take Advantage of Points and Coupons
You’re probably wondering why we would tell you to take advantage of points when that would involve spending on credit cards – but we’re not. Credit cards aren’t the only cards that give points. Everyday debit cards like ones from Citibank offer points on your regular purchases. You can then use those points on flights, hotels and even your travel wardrobe. To save even more, use programs like Honey to help you scan the internet automatically for eligible promo codes.
Book Hotels and Flights During Off Seasons
Now that you’ve started to save a few coins, it’s time to make sure you get the most bang for your buck during the planning stages. Sure it’s fun to go on vacation during the summer or during holidays, but it is also more expensive. Traveling during shoulder season (the time between low and high seasons) or during low season, when destinations don’t expect much traffic, can help you save tons and keep your wallet happy. Keep your eye on sites like Airfarewatchdog, Kayak Buzz and Skyscanner for flight deals and sites like Groupon and Booking.com for deals on hotels. Also, don’t be afraid to contact hotels about deals and promotions, they often have deals that aren’t promoted publicly.
Don’t Be Afraid of Packages
Tour packages get a bad rap due to people’s perception that they are more expensive than booking on your own trip and restrict your freedom. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, packaged tours can be a very economical option for people looking to save money and pay over time. And since many include airfare, their deals can’t be beat. It’s also a great option for people looking to travel with family or friends. Many also offer independent packages that give the freedom and flexibility to explore at your own pace. Check out companies like Friendly Planet, Cheap Caribbean and even Groupon Getaways for amazing deals to some of the hottest destinations. If you’re a jetsetting student on a budget, STA Travel is right up your alley.
Finally, don’t rush the process and don’t feel pressure to keep up with the Joneses. This is your trip, your way, and even though it might seem tough to save now, the payoff will be well worth it and the memories, priceless.