Let’s talk Planet Earth. If you know anything about me, you know I very obviously…
Let’s be honest: It takes more than a wish to make travel happen. For many, the biggest hurdle is the cash.
I’m here to tell you that the trip you daydream about is possible. Saving up doesn’t have to be so hard. And yes, you still can have that fancy coffeehouse drink if you want it!
Here’s a few sneaky ways to save for your next vacation.
1. Get clear on your goal (& write it down!).
It’s hard to save for something if you don’t have a concrete number in mind. Research your ideal trip. There’s the flight, accommodations, and transportation once you arrive. Will you have a kitchen? Factor in groceries. If not, how much are meals out? Be sure to include all the fun activities you hope do once there. Is there a big splurge, like a helicopter ride or meal you want to enjoy? Will you buy souvenirs? Once you’ve calculated how much your dream trip will cost, boom. You have a goal! Write it down somewhere where you’ll see it. Bonus points if you pick a date for taking said trip.
2. Give yourself daily reminders.
I know this might sound a bit woo-woo, but daily reminders of your dream vacation will help keep you on track. Make that white sandy beach the screensaver on your phone or computer. Place a photo of your destination in your wallet—a good reminder each and every time you reach for the credit card or cash.
3. Dollars and cents.
I’ve read that the average person’s change equals around $40 to $50 a month! Even if it was just $30 a month, you’d save $360 dollars in a year. Maybe that’s the money you do something extra splurgy with.
Want to take it a step farther? A friend of mine and her husband decided to not spend every $5 bill that crossed their path for three years. By the end of their savings experiment, they had enough to pay for everything but airfare (which they bought with miles) for 16 days in Thailand. She said it led to guilt-free spending on their trip, and the saving process was painless! Store your fives in a coffee can, or if that’s a little too Great-Aunt Mildred for you, deposit them into a designated travel savings account.
4. Really look at your spending.
This one might be a bit painful, but it’s worth it. Print out your bank and credit card statements from the last 60 days. Then, take out a green, pink and blue highlighter. Highlight all your necessary expenses with the green marker—stuff like rent or a mortgage, insurance, utilities, getting your car fixed, etc.
Next, highlight all the expenditures that make you truly happy. Do you love going to concerts or getting a nice haircut? Maybe your morning latte is the thing that gets you through the day. If it makes you smile, mark it pink.
Lastly, highlight every ambivalent purchase (or ones you can’t even remember making!) with the blue highlighter. You might realize you’re spending $20 a month on bottled water because you forget to bring your own, or that you’re somehow spending $100 a month on crappy sandwiches from the sub shop by your office. It can be shocking to realize how these small expenses really add up. Sure, it takes more planning, but could you save enough for a flight by bringing your own lunch to work?
I love this method because it’s so individualized, and if done right, singles out purchases you won’t even miss.
5. Tell everyone about your upcoming trip.
Talk to your friends and family about your travel savings goal. This is a great way to keep yourself accountable, and it will also influence the kinds of activities you plan together. Dinner and drinks out can really add up. By letting your loved ones know you’re saving for something special, they’ll be more understanding of your desire to stay in. Why not make dinner together? Let’s be honest, for most of us, it’s less about the food and more about the camaraderie.
6. Get inspired!
A great book to have as a crash course on fun ways to save money is David Pogue’s Basic’s Money. It just came out, costs $15 and has a lot of great day-to-day tips on how to save money everywhere.
Here’s two of my favorite tidbits of advice from his book. RetailmeNot.com gives you coupon codes from 50,000 stores to redeem at the end of an online purchase. You know when it has the space to enter a special promotional code to save money and you’re like how do I get one of those? Just go to this website.
The other is Camelcamelcamel.com which tracks purchase prices from Amazon. It then gives you a history chart on that particular item so you know how low it can go. You to sign up for price alerts so you know when you want to buy. Brilliant!
7. You’re gonna use a credit card anyway…
Sapphire gives me 2 points per dollar on every travel purchase and 1 point for everything else. They also have a rewards center online where I can book travel.
My Bank of America card has no annual fee (woohooo!) and I earn 1.5 points on every dollar on every purchase. I just use those points to pay down travel purchases made with the card. Both have no foreign transaction fees. It’s a great way to earn points towards travel by doing something you were going to do anyway. And now when your furnace breaks this winter, you’ll think “I know, I’ll charge it!…Hawaii, here I come!!!”
What are some of your favorite sneaky ways to save for travel? Share in the comments!