Budgeting For Travel: Strategies for Every Day Life
After living and working abroad for seven years I’ve had endless questions about affording international travel. Questions come mainly from people I meet in the states who haven’t found a way to save for traveling.
How Can I Afford to Travel?
The number one fact I can share is that if you want to travel you must make it a priority. That means planning for it and including it in your daily financial decisions.
* Do you spend upwards of a hundred dollars a month on a cable package that you watch a few hours on the weekend or after work? Cutting down to a basic package as I have and using Netflix is a cheaper alternative that allows you to pocket extra cash for travel. Cheaper yet is the online option, watching television from your computer. I have friends who do this as their only means of television viewing. They use both Hulu and Netflix and watch happily and cheaply. I haven’t gone that route because I’m attached to watching on a bigger screen. Everyone has different saving strategies. Could one of these strategies work for you?
I will be the first to admit that when budgeting for international travel the weekly budget for pleasures takes a hit. Dinners out, movies and lattes are far fewer. That may stop some readers in their tracks, not wanting to give up their four dollar lattes or their two nights out a week. Modification is the key. Get active with friends, plan a walk where you can enjoy your friends company without spending money.
Another great alternative is to plan a coffee and dessert night. That way you’re only spending money on a dessert and drink, rather than a full meal. You still have the pleasure of being with friends and you have more money in your travel savings plan. These aren’t always easy choices I admit. I miss out on activities with friends and family because I just can’t blow money on tons of extras. I choose to make international travel my priority. I willingly modify my activities for the pleasure of wandering the sights of countries around the globe.
The Savings Advantage, When You’re Budgeting For Travel
Cutting out one evening a week of expenses as a couple and two less coffee stops a week will save on average $88 dollars that can be set aside for travel. If your single one less evening out with friends could add $30 dollars to your travel fund per week. That’s $120 in a month. In just a few months you have an airline ticket purchased; which puts you steps closer to your dream of international travel.
* Watch What You Spend
Shopping expenses can add up quickly so I keep a tight lid on what I choose to purchase. I save my money for items that make my life and international travel more fun. It’s all about choices, what changes can you make to save more cash for travel? Think outside the box and you’ll find saving easier than you expected.
Travel Accommodations and Traveling Independently
I’ve said the word that conjures up backpackers and shared accommodations that leave you cringing. Me too, I’ve only stayed in a hostel once and it wasn’t an experience I was eager to repeat. Through listening to friends and fellow travelers I’ve found a new wave of hostels. These newer hostels are changing the face of hostelling. In Bolzano Italy I discovered Youth Hostel Bolzano where single rooms go for $24 Euros a night and come with breakfast. Not only is the hostel modern and fresh it’s conveniently located to the train station and Bolzano’s historical city center. I’ve found similar hostels in other locales that seem to cater to a more hip traveler who wants both low cost and inviting surroundings.
While living in Germany I discovered the sweet option of combined packages. These deals allow you to pay up front for accommodations, a meal plan, a rental car and your airline tickets. Normally I’m not a package traveler, yet I’ve had some great adventures and saved money going this route.
Rome was one of my package trips. It was a great experience with excellent accommodations at a reasonable price. One tip I’ve learned is to include breakfast in my package. Hotels offer nice breakfasts that fill you up and allow you hours of exploring without the need to spend additional money.
I spent a week in Rome with my cousin and we had some great picnic lunches at Roman historical sites. They are some of my best memories in Rome. How can you beat eating outdoors and viewing some of the greatest history in the world? We chose easy to pack cheese, bread, fruit or wrapped slices of pizza we’d purchased on our way in little Italian shops. It’s a fun way to discover local foods and save money.
My Rome hotel, the Hotel Bailey.
This is my recommendation. Unless you’re heading somewhere that feels too difficult, this is the best way to go. Independent travel saves money while giving you a freedom that organized tours just don’t offer. In addition, planning an itinerary can be fun and easy with so many great online travel sites and options for travel insight from other travelers.
A Travel Saving Plan
o This essential tool will allow you to keep your travel savings on track. Decide what you can save and open a savings account that is not linked to your checking account. Chart your progress and watch your savings grow; you will be less likely to dip into it. As your money grows you can begin planning your international travel adventure.
For other budget travel tips and destinations check out my budget travel articles on MoneyCrashers.com