1. Get acquainted with your money
"Money, meet owner. Owner, meet money."
I want you to open up your online banking and note down where your money has gone over the past 30 days. Then start categorizing similar expenses, for example food, clothes, gas, etc. Then add up the categories so you have a total for each.
I'll tell you, the first time I ever did this was years ago but I still remember vividly the shock. It was not a pretty revelation. I had spent almost all of my money on food. What was I doing?! I had a fridge stocked full of food, but I was eating out because I was purely to lazy to make anything. While I had consciously spent this money daily, it didn't really hit me where I had been spending, category-wise, until I looked at it as one total food category number.
Alright, now we know where your money is going, let's put it to better use.
2. Note down importance & prioritize
Go ahead and write down why it's important to you to go take a trip. Maybe your trip symbolizes accomplishing something, say graduation, or waking up at 6:30 AM every day to go into work. (I'd call that an accomplishment, 6:30 AM is miserable). Define why you want the trip, and why it's important to you. Then write it down. Realize that your travel fund isn't just for a trip to Fiji, it's a reward for your years of school, or hard work day in and day out on the job.
Now it's time to prioritize! You've seen where your money has been going, so now let's prioritize travel over all else. It's as simple as telling yourself, "My trip is more important for me than - *insert truly non-essential categories of expenses from Step 1 here.*"
Knowing what your travel goal represents will make you enjoy saving a little bit each day instead of spending in your non-essential categories. Saving will become a rewarding feeling, not one of scarcity. Seeing your bank balance grow will mean success in a way a new purse never could.
Last call to get out!
Okay you've come this far but I have something to tell you. Now is your chance out, if you'd like it. You don't need to go travel, you can continue going out nightly, and clear out the clothing racks at Zara if you'd like. There's nothing inherently wrong with this. People have different priorities and spend accordingly. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Think, would you rather your non-essential expense categories over your trip? Just because other people travel doesn't mean you have to.
If you've decided that you did indeed click on a blog post related to money & travel because you really want to go, then alright! Let's continue.
Related: Creating Budget-Friendly Trips
3. Realize your fears
What are your worries related to travel and money? Okay, now really think those thoughts through.
Are you going to completely destroy your financial future with a trip? No!
Will you be living on the street? No.
Will you need to skip out on things you otherwise would buy? Yes.
Will you feel slightly uncomfortable in social situations for not buying something? Yes.
Will you care about what others thought when you're hiking the trail to Machu Picchu or making funny poses in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Nope.
Realize that while some of your fears are true, like having to skip out on things you would otherwise normally buy, others really are not. It is highly unlikely that a trip is going to derail your financial life to the point you'll be living on the street.
If you let it, money and the fear of not having 'enough' will hold you back. I would encourage you to take fear and throw it out the window. I mean, how many of us want fulfill that dream where you show up to the airport, pick a flight and leave? Everyone. But so few people do it. Travel and money are important, but so is taking a leap of faith.
I've found people who travel often tend to encourage others to "just go," and make it work.
So now you've accepted your fears, determined they're not going to bring your world down to a crashing disaster, we can get on with funding this trip.
4. Creating a travel budget
Before we actually make a travel budget, there's something to know. A budget is just a number. It's an estimate and a comfort. You don't need the exact amount listed before you can book your trip. If you're short, you'll make do. You'll change your spending habits, and you can still make your trip happen. Granted, it's nice to have a rough idea of how much you'll want before you leave, and once you have that amount you'll enjoy the comfort of knowing you have exactly enough to enjoy your trip just as you wanted it to be.
Alright, how to make a travel budget super quick.
- Think about a specific destination you'd like to visit.
- Estimate costs from the major expense categories: transportation, food, accommodation, sightseeing, travel insurance & general spending (shopping/souvenirs).
- Add the numbers up, and BAM - you have a travel budget! (It really is that easy).
(Don't have the faintest idea how to estimate costs? Check out Pinterest, it's stocked full of travel budgets others have made for their trips to get you started.)
Now, decide the date you'd like to take the trip, and work backwards. Divide your total by the number of months or weeks you have to save your travel budget amount.
5. Take a leap of faith & put your money where your heart is
I'd suggest thinking of your travel budget as two amounts. 1 section is your airfare, the 2nd section is for all else. Determine how much your airfare is, and save towards that goal as quickly as you can.
Then book the flight!
Yep. You don't need to have your full travel budget saved before you book your flight.
In fact booking your flight makes your trip a reality and will help you save. When the flight is booked, your trip is going to happen, one way or another, you're going to step foot on that plane now you've paid for it.
When friends ask you to do things that involve spending you can tell them "so sorry, my trip to Thailand is really my priority right now." If you've already booked the flight and let others know you're going, they're also a lot less likely to get upset with you for bailing on whatever their plan was.
Knowing that your trip is coming and the desire to not completely screw your future self will actually help you save! That trip is a lot closer within reach than before, don't you think?
Do you have any spending categories you think will find hard to kick the habit of? Was your biggest expense category shocking? And of course, where are you headed, and what is your travel budget looking like for it?
I love to hear from my readers! Either leave me a comment, or take down my email. firstname.lastname@example.org. My inbox is always open to readers! I'm more than happy to help answer questions that will assist you to get out and go. I invite you to send me an email anytime friend!