How to Save Money for Your Next Big Vacation
You don’t have to give up your beloved Starbucks to make your travel dreams a reality. Although going on a major trip can be expensive, following these six simple money-saving strategies will guarantee you have a robust vacation fund in no time!
If you're thinking of taking an extended vacation—especially if that means quitting your job to travel —the right time to start saving was yesterday. Are you dying to go on an African safari, or race reindeer in Finland, or hike the best peaks in the U.S., but you're worried that it might drill a serious hole into your wallet. That’s understandable; coming up with extra cash is no easy feat!
But here's some news that may perk you up: There are easy ways to learn how to save money that can make the vacation of your dreams affordable. You already know a life of travel is worth the price, so it just requires some planning ahead, a little bit of discipline—and starting now.
Like, right now.
Not yesterday, but today. Are you up for the challenge? Follow these six tips and you're bound to come up with enough dough buy your flights, fill your duffel with your remaining worldly possessions, and hit the road!
1. Go Green
The average debit card user charges more than $8,000 on their card each year and makes 18 purchases a month with it. The problem? When you rely solely or mostly on a debit card, it's easy to ignore how much you're spending and overdo it.
Instead? Try a cash-only diet (you’ll survive the experiment, I swear).
Take out a certain amount of cash from the bank each month and spend
only that amount. Experts say that when you watch the dollar bills
leaving your hands, you'll become more conscious of your spending
habits and cut back. Plus, when the cash runs out, you just can't
2. Join a New Bank
Set up a "vacation fund" in a bank that's separate from the regular one you use for checking. Separation is key, because if the money is in your regular bank, you'll see how much is in the fund every time you check your account (and you may be tempted to spend it!) An online bank, such as Ally Bank, ING Direct, or PNC Virtual Wallet is likely to give you a higher interest rate on your savings, so your money will grow a little faster.
3. Get Automated
Set up a regular automated transfer that takes money from your checking account and puts it into your "vacation fund." For instance, if you transfer $50 a week for one year, you'll have saved $2,600 plus interest. Not too shabby, right? If you make a small transfer weekly, as opposed to monthly or quarterly, you're less likely to feel a big hit. By following this strategy, you won't forget to save money for your vacation, because you won't even need to think about it.
4. Eat In
Chowing down at restaurants regularly can throw you into a huge money pit fast. For instance, a pasta and chicken dish at a chain restaurant can set you back about $15. If you made that same entree at home, you'd spend less than $5 per serving. If you make your own breakfast in the morning, bring your lunch to work, and make delicious, healthy meals at home as much as possible, you may be surprised at how much you can save—it can add up to hundreds each month! Any time you risk falling back into old eating out habits, just read through these drool-worthy dishes in South America and imagine spending your pennies on a fresh Brazilian pastel instead of a chain-restaurant fettuccine.
5. Learn How to Travel Hack
Whenever you're buying books, clothes, electronics, flowers, gift cards, beauty products, jewelry, sporting goods, tools, toys—heck, just about anything—see if you can buy the item through your credit card's rewards site. For example, if you own a Citibank credit card and make purchases through ThankYou.com, the bank's rewards site, you'll earn more credit card points. Or companies like Chase offer rewards cards that offer double or triple points on all dollars spent on travel. Later on, you can trade those credit card points for a plane ticket or hotel room for your vacation. Research “travel hacking” online to unlock an entire world of digital nomads and travelers finding hidden deals and ways to truly maximize every dollar they spend on travel—just be sure to pay off your credit card bill in full each month so you don't get slammed with late fees and interest!
6. Buy Quality Essentials
Avoid the habit of cycling through cheap goods and instead invest in quality items. Sure, it might cost a little more upfront, but as you continue socking away money into your travel fund you’ll be amazed by how much you save when your wardrobe and gear last forever. Start with a quality backpack to carry your essentials to and from work—then, when you hit the road it will do double duty as your travel bag. With our No Matter What™ Warranty, every future trip is that much cheaper because you know the backpack is your travel companion for life. Add a set of packing cubes to the mix and your gear will now be as organized as your financial life!
At every step of the way, keep track of your extra cash! Deposit
every single bit of savings into your travel fund, then head online to
start researching the this year’s
Whether you’re quitting your job to travel or maximizing your vacation days, make this the year you venture into the world and find your unknown.
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By Jane Bianchi
Jane Bianchi is a freelance writer who has worked for a variety of national magazines, including Seventeen, Family Circle, and Good Housekeeping. She lives in Tampa, Florida.