Are you green with envy over other people’s travel pics?
Do you tell yourself it’s impossible to afford travel for you or your family?
One of the top 3 resolutions people make (and wish they could keep) is to travel more or take a specific trip. It’s March and while resolutions have fallen to the wayside for many, the desire to travel still exists. Unfortunately, the main reason people don’t follow up on a resolution to travel is
money, excuses about money.
I want to write this in the most constructive way possible. I want to help you reach your travel goals! At the same time I need to recognize my own privileges – freedom of time and a comfortable family income. When I talk about budgeting, I mean cutting those ridiculous $100 ($200 for some) trips to Target where you don’t even have a shopping list. I mean cutting Starbucks and impulse buying. It may even mean meal planning so you can eat at home more consistently. That particular change has made a significant impact on our family’s ability to save. I do NOT mean choosing between feeding your children and travel or choosing between childcare and travel or any other extreme examples. I DO mean new iPhone vs travel and pedicures vs travel. Got it? If we are still on the same page, let’s get moving!
In order to afford “more travel” it’s important to figure out your goals. Do you want to go on a couple’s Baja Disney Cruise from San Diego for 4 nights with cash for drinks and incidentals? Then you KNOW you need to save a minimum of $3,200. Do you fall asleep dreaming of Iceland and Ireland and Indonesia and Iran and Iraq and Israel and India… because you want to visit all the countries that start with the letter “I”? Then you need to save every penny you can to make your dreams come true. It will be a long term goal that will be years in the making. Either way, your ability to save quickly will depend on your willingness to make changes and how devoted you are to your travel dreams.
Every year (it never fails) I get an email from a friend in which he/she tells me it looks like a lot of fun to be able to take trips and expose our kids to new people and places. Not once has any of these emails asked me how we do it. Instead, without exception, these emails include one of two phrases, “I wish we could afford to do the same thing.” or “Must be nice.”
America and beyond, you can afford to travel.
If your goal is to enjoy a Starbucks beverage every day then by all means keep going through the drive-thru. However, if your goal is to watch the sun rise from Mt Kilimanjaro you may need to curb those daily indulgences.
I’ve read blogs where people were super up front about what their real life budget is and how they sock away each and every dollar. They share their food budget and exactly how much their phone bill is. My doing that from Oahu isn’t going to really help anyone on the mainland because our budget reflects the higher cost of living in Hawaii. Stuff is more expensive here and our family income reflects that. I think it works better to look at percentages and trends. Do your spending trends track big bucks spent at Panera and Five Guys and Chipotle? You can fix that! And I promise that eating food in another country always tastes better.
Is there a one-size fits all solution to find the money to travel? Nope. Maybe you are married with two incomes. Maybe you are single. Maybe you have 6 kids. Maybe you have no kids. Guess what? That’s ok! Here are my top 2 ways to save money to travel more in 2018 and beyond – no matter what situation applies to you. I know, I know, you made it this far and I’m only giving you TWO tips? Yes. These two tips are broad-reaching and will get you where you need to be with your spending and saving so you can hop that KLM flight to Tanzania in record time.
- Create a monthly budget. This is key – whether you create one on excel or on the back of a piece of scratch paper. A budget is unique to your situation so this will take some time and effort. It requires you to examine your spending habits and take into account that some expenses are predictable on a monthly basis and some fluctuate. The first place to start may be your credit card or bank statement from the previous month. (Maybe you will realize you didn’t actually need to own the entire second season of Outlander – even if James Fraser’s accent makes you melt.) A monthly budget evolves and will need updating as holidays come along and unpredictable expenses arise. It is key to have an emergency portion of your budget. If there is no emergency, there’s more for travel! If there is, you aren’t caught off guard. For the record, those new sunglasses aren’t an emergency. This budget will be your ticket to your next trip if you are realistic and disciplined.
- Trim excess. You know what this means…or maybe you don’t and that’s why we are having this chat! Leave the random clearance item on the shelf. Stop paying for cable channels you don’t watch. Cancel subscriptions to things you forgot you are even paying for on a monthly basis. Look at your cell phone bill and cut back on gigabytes or whatever you are paying for that you aren’t using. Prioritize travel over more frequent treats like pedicures, movies, meals out and other expenses that are “optional.” Being able to add a safari in Tanzania after the Kilimanjaro sunrise is far more rewarding than all those little expenses. If travel is your goal, your spending choices must reflect that on a daily basis.
Does any of that sound doable? Some? All? I promise you can do this! If you have kids, let them in on the budget and help them know that you aren’t saying no to stuff to crush their little souls but to broaden their horizons. My kids can seriously get behind cruising past a shave ice place if they know it’s to get to a resort with a waterslide. So can I. If you are reading this and are serious about travel..so can you. Promise.
I’d love to hear what you think of these ideas and if you have any of your own to share!
If you are looking for ways to save WHILE traveling, get excited for the follow-up to this post because it will be full of great ways to save on travel and still have a great time.
*Multiple photographs in this post were taken by Britttney Vier of Brittney Vier Photography.