Three easy ways to save for travel
I have it. My friends have it. Several of the people on my Facebook feed have it. When the temperatures start to soar, it seems everyone sets their sites on travel. Whether it’s the beach, camping or some exotic international local, just looking at everyone else’s vacation photos has me desperately searching for last-minute travel deals.
Of course traveling on a budget can be difficult, especially if kids are involved, or if you’d like to do it for any sort of extended period of time. For example, my husband and I recently decided that we’d like to take a three-month trip around South America next year. We do realize that reaching this financial goal will take some stamina on our part, so I sat down and tried to come up with a couple of different ways to help us get there.
Below is what I came up with. While your own travel goals may not be as lofty as packing up for three whole months, using one of these methods yourself will hopefully help you save enough cash so that whatever your own fantasy vacation is, you can make it come true knowing that you have the money to pay it off.
Idea No. 1: Live off one person’s salary
Spoiler alert: This particular method of saving only works if you actually have two salaries to live off of, preferably a spouse or super-serious significant other. In order to make this work, you’ll need to have a pretty tight grasp on what your monthly expenses are, as well as a good idea of what each person’s monthly income looks like. Linking all of your accounts to a financial site like Learnvest or Mint is an easy way to get a good spending snapshot, but if you’d prefer to go low-tech, you could always go through last month’s credit and debit card statements and log them in an Excel spreadsheet to keep track.
After Chris and I figured out what we spend each month on essentials (rent, utilities, food, cell phone), lifestyle (aka: fun things) and retirement, we discovered that we could essentially live off of Chris’s salary for the essentials and devote the majority of mine to savings (including retirement and travel goals). From there we decided on a number that made us feel comfortable for the both of us to travel for three months, divided that by how much we’re now able to funnel into our ‘travel savings’ goal and boom! We’ve got ourselves an estimated departure date!
Idea No 2: Supplement, supplement, supplement
Arguably the hardest of the three options, supplementing your current income with outside jobs will help you reach your travel goal much more quickly than trying to get there by cutting back on what you’re already spending. If you can, try taking on a couple extra assignments, projects or jobs on the side, and funnel all of that cash into a separate savings account that you open just for the purposes of your travel. If you pretend like this extra cash never even existed, you’ll be less tempted to spend it on immediate goals over the travel goals you’ve set for yourself. (Extra credit if you can get some of that cash deposited directly into your special travel savings account!)
Idea No 3: Make the most of freebies
In order to make this option work, you’ll need to do a bit of research. For starters, is your credit card offering you the best in travel rewards? If travel is your ultimate goal (above gas, cash or other gifts), then why not put every dollar you spend towards that goal? Start by checking out this list of some of the best travel rewards credit cards available. Is your card on here? If not, then sign up for a new one.
Secondly, save for your travel goals in an interest-bearing savings account, rather than a checking account that doesn’t accrue any extra cash for you monthly. Of course, planning a trip based around credit card miles and interest won’t necessarily get you on the road any time soon, but they are two ways to make the most of any money you’re already spending and/or saving.
Cheryl Lock is a personal finance writer at and former editor at LearnVest and Parents magazine. When she’s not writing, she enjoys travel, which she blogs about at wearywanderer.wordpress.com.