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Today I’m fusing two of my favorite topics: travel + finances! Michael and I both have a passion for traveling and get to do a good bit of it. We spend A LOT on traveling each year, but we make sure our other financial goals are still on track. So how do we save and pay for a big trip? I’m outlining all of that here for you!
This is arguably the most fun part… you get to pick where your next adventure will take you! We have a bucket list that is about one million miles long, so how do we narrow it down? We choose how much time we can take off, how much the trip may cost, and if we are meeting friends. Obviously, weekend trips are more affordable and easier to plan with friends. We often use events like weddings to guide our plans as well.
Deciding when you’re going to take off will determine how much you have to start saving. If you are planning a big international trip I would plan it out 1-2 years in advance. Any less time than that, you will be contributing a large chunk of money in each paycheck towards saving. If it’s just a weekend trip, you may want to go in a few weeks or months.
I’m a firm believer that even if it’s an exorbitant trip, you can make it a reality by planning and saving. If you have a realistic timeline and a little bit of patience you can make virtually any trip a reality! You can estimate how much a trip will cost by doing a simple google search. Search flights, accommodations, and how much meals will cost.
For example, if I’m going to New York City I will estimate a LOT more for accommodations and meals than I would if I were going to the mountains for a weekend. If the trip is a couple years off, I add a cushion to account for inflation and changing travel prices.
From how much your trip will cost and how much time you have to save, do some simple division for how much you need to stash away each paycheck. This part is pretty simple, but for example…
Before we even got married, Michael and I decided we wanted to take a trip to Southeast Asia for 3-4 weeks one summer. We were planning to go next year, but with Covid that’s most likely not happening… I’ll write out our thought process anyways. We started saving when we got married, so we would have about 2 years to save. Because the cost of living is so low in Southeast Asia, our main budget would be going to flights. We estimated a rather generous $6,000. So, $6000 divided by 24 months is $250 per month. I budget each paycheck, so I break this down even further to $125 per paycheck. Even though this is a LARGE trip, $125 a paycheck seems very realistic and doable.
Oftentimes, we are saving for a larger trip simultaneously along with smaller weekend trips. If we don’t have anything on the books, I will save a small amount in a “vacation” fund if we do want to take a last minute trip.
These steps are often interchanged and intertwined as well. The budget may need adjustment if we have an unexpected expense or have something like a wedding come up. I think the key to going on a big trip is patience and being willing to plan years in advance. You also need to be committed to not racking up credit card debt.
I’d love to know: how do you plan and save for trips? Is your process similar or do you have other things you take into consideration?
Til next time!