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Covid has many of us staying put or traveling locally which means for those of us still fortunate to be healthy and working we have the opportunity to save for future trips.
Having enough money for your dream destination may seem to be a steep mountain to climb but reaching your target budget is far more doable. The key is to align your lifestyle to fulfill your traveling goals, and these tips can help.
1. Track your spending.
Track expenses monthly, including impulse buys. Compare the total to how much you earn, and identify essentials to know how much you can cut back.
2. Set your home budget.
Include the absolutes that you can’t do without like grocery essentials and bills.
3. Decide on your travel budget.
Research how much it will cost you to reach and explore your destination to help you arrive at a budget estimate. You can save by considering the following:
- Travel off-season.
Know the best time to visit a place. Rates usually go up during school breaks or summertime, so schedule vacations a little before or after the high or peak season. Online maps and guides—including government portals—are valuable references.
- Scout for good flight deals.
Compare rates through airfare search sites such as Skiplagged, Momondo, and Skyscanner. You can also check out airline websites and sign up for promo notifications.
Choose a midweek departure date instead of a weekend, which carries a premium. You can fly economy class to save, as well as choose random seating, flying with just a carry-on bag, and bringing your own food.
- Go for hostels and rented homes instead of hotels.
Whether you’re bound for Europe or Asia, you can find alternatives to expensive hotels at AirBnB, HostelWorld, Booking.com, and Couchsurfing. Some hostels have kitchens, allowing you to cook instead of dining out. You can also save by staying with friends or relatives.
- Research major attraction websites and restaurants.
Check your destination’s tourism office, museums, and historical sites—some of them offer free admission. Also, try free walking tours.
To avoid wasting money or upsetting your stomach, check restaurant menus and prices beforehand.
4. Open a new savings account for travel and get a travel credit card.
A separate bank account will help you better monitor your progress towards your target amount. A travel credit card will also allow you to apply points earned on purchases to flight bookings.
5. Live below your means.
Decide how much you’ll allow yourself to spend each day then record your expenses regularly. Apps like Mint, YNAB (You Need a Budget), and Quickbooks can help.
See what things you can give up—cigarettes, take-out food, or your gym membership. You can also downgrade your smartphone or internet connection plan, shop at stores with cheaper-priced goods, and reduce power and water usage.
Of course, there are some costs that simply cannot be avoided. For example, if your car breaks beyond repair, then you’ll have to think of ways to save money so you’re not off the road for too long. This is where a used Mercedes will prove useful. Why shouldn’t you be able to drive luxuriously on a budget?
6. Find additional income streams.
Work as a tutor, photographer, cook, or baker, or sell your art if you’re a creator. Pick out the things you no longer use and put them up for sale.
7. Adjust your trip if necessary.
Be realistic – a cruise to Antarctica is a once in a lifetime opportunity. But if your current financial status won’t allow you to book that trip now, plan it later or choose a cheaper destination.
If you have a flexible schedule, play around with different flight times and dates until you find the cheapest option.
Don’t despair if you can’t follow your original plan, just be ready to correct your course along the way. As in life, the detours won’t matter if you reach your intended destination in the end.
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