You’re scrolling through Instagram and it seems like every other post is a travel ad or someone you know traveling. You’re so focused on your money goals but it’s getting harder and harder each day to remain steadfast as you suppress your love of travel. So you begin to ask yourself, “Can I actually travel and still meet my goals?”
The answer is “Absolutely,” but it has to be strategic.
First things first, you’ll need to start by assessing your goals. Ask yourself what milestones have you achieved this year thus far? Are any of them worthy of a reward? What’s left on your list to accomplish this year? If you feel your milestones should be rewarded you’ll be able to make travel plans with a clear conscience and guilt free. If not, you can shift your money mindset and allow the trip to incentivize you to accomplish your goals.
Your next step is to make a list of potential destinations. Your list should include roadtrips, domestic flights, international destinations and even staycations. After you make your list do some research and start pricing the destinations. Look at the estimated costs and tier the trips from fair and reasonable to top tier.
Now that you have a benchmark on pricing, look at your account(s), your financial obligations and your spending habits. You will most likely find the funds for your travels within your spending habits and those financial obligations you would forego by traveling such as gas (unless you choose roadtrip), food and entertainment.
If you’re using a money management plan it’s even easier to identify how much money you can spend on traveling. You’ll use funds allocated for flexible spending. The cherry on top is if you have reward points and miles that you can use to offset your costs!
Before you start the decision making process take time to reflect on your goal for your trip and set an intention. Do you want time for clarity and to renew your mind? Are you seeking thrill and adventure? A new cultural experience? Rejuvenation? Your goal has to remain center focus. Taking these factors into account, conduct a comparative analysis of your list of destinations. You can start by eliminating the destinations that won’t satisfy your goals for traveling. Then compare the prices for the remaining destinations against the funds you have available and any rewards you can use to offset the cost.
If you’re asking yourself why you wouldn’t just choose the least expensive option, here’s why. Satisfying the goal for your travels is more important than the most cost effective destination. If your needs aren’t met you’ll most likely want to travel again before reaching your next milestone. Which you’ll want to avoid if you want to achieve your money goals. However, you may need to make some tradeoffs. Perhaps a shorter stay or inviting a travel companion as long as it won’t take away from your intention. Also, you may need to adjust your timing. For example, you may want a summer getaway, but it’s still summer in September and the prices will be significantly lower.
Once you find your destination, set your plans in motion, and most importantly travel light! It sounds so simple, yet telling yourself you’re traveling light decreases your desire to shop to “get ready” for your trip. If you still feel you must shop, be sure to shop your closet first!
As for your money goals, you need to reassess your strategy to ensure you stay on track. This is how you ensure you don’t cheat on your money goals. If you skimmed a little off the top of your savings, or paid a little less towards your debt repayment plan it’s not the end of the world. Just determine your plan of action to get back on track before you depart for your travels. For example, minimize your local entertainment expenses before and after you travel to offset any losses. Or let’s say you’re close to paying off a debt, once the debt is paid use those funds to repay whatever you skimmed. If you’re lucky or plan accordingly you won’t have to make any changes to your strategy.
It’s always a tough call deciding between being responsible with your money and “doing the right thing” versus having fun and spoiling yourself with a good time. The key is finding balance and not confusing deprivation with being disciplined. Balance will keep you sane and motivated to keep striving towards achieving your goals. Deprivation is frustrating and can cause fatigue. When this sets in, your goals are at risk. It becomes more challenging to keep going and if you break the setback can be detrimental. It’s best to take a moment to celebrate and reward yourself. This creates positive reinforcement and solidifies your path to financial success.