I’ve been asked so many times, how can I afford to travel as frequently as I do? It’s very easy–my husband and I have made travel a priority in our lives, budgets, etc. You only live once and this is a way we prefer to live.
We actually have a running list of where we’d like to go, how long of a trip it should be, and then we work towards making it happen. Some places are great for a long weekend–if we can drive there in a few hours or fly there quickly–like Las Vegas or Memphis, anything concerning the beach and relaxation should be a 1 week trip, and anywhere that will involve a long flight or a lot of exploration–Europe or Greece–will be a 2 week trip.
However, sometimes we have to sprinkle in unplanned trips which can set our list back a little. For instance, my British friends Matt and Emma will be on holiday in Mexico in October. I originally met them in Mexico, so we’ve decided to vacation at the same resort as a reunion of sorts. We weren’t planning to go to Mexico this year–we’ve been there so many times–but I can’t wait to see Matt and Emma!
How do we save for a trip? Easy, we have one bank account set aside, just for trip money AND we put half of every paycheck in there. Sounds like a lot , right? But we consider travel just as important as making the truck payment. We cut all other extraneous costs down to a minimum, so unless it’s a necessity, extra money doesn’t get spent. I never stop to buy a cup of coffee on my way in to work and I rarely eat lunch out. I usually bring a lunch to work with me. We use coupons to help keep the grocery bill down, and use our grocery shopper’s card to rack up our fuel points. We also work from a grocery list and don’t buy a bunch of stuff that’s not on it–this means very little junk food. It also helps that my husband is a bargain shopper–we never buy new clothes unless they are on sale. I love the beginning of summer when I get to stock up on sweaters for next year! Any extra money we receive also ends up in this account–bonuses, gifts, etc.
Keep in mind, this isn’t our only savings. We also have another account for saving for emergency or capital expenses. This way, if a big expense comes up, like the time I slid off the road in black ice and needed all 4 tires replaced at the same time, we take it from that account NOT the vacation account. And the first money that comes out of any pay is retirement/401K/mutual funds. We are paying ourselves and our retirement before anything else so that hopefully when we are retired, we have enough money to travel to our hearts content!
We will also bargain shop for the trip. I will do frequent comparisons of prices through Apple Vacations, Funjet, and Cheap Caribbean. Doing a search on Expedia will alert me to which airlines fly to our destination and what the flight schedules look like. Based on those results, I will then price bundled trips through the airlines. Typically, during these searches I can also determine if there are any sales on certain resorts or airlines which can also help us save money on the trip cost. I love a good fill-the-rooms sale!
Overall, if you are planning your budget wisely and sticking to it (it does take diligence and discipline), it’s pretty easy to save for vacationing.