5 Budgeting Tips to Secure Your Travel Plans
In the past couple years I’ve made the most trips to Jamaica since I moved to Toronto 15 years ago. I’ve had people ask me, “Monique, how do you afford to travel so often? Are you rich?” No, I’m not rich, I’m still a student. I just learned from life how to manage my money and now I invest what I can from my part-time job into travel. When I go to Jamaica, I stay with family most of the time and spend a few days in a hotel. I spend most of my budget on food, taxi fare and adventures. If you know someone that lives where you'd like to visit, giving them some cash to host you should be cheaper than a hotel. Options like this or an Airbnb can also delivery a more authentic experience. If you intend to explore the country a lot, resulting in eating out, you won't be home enough to get the full value of your expensive all inclusive hotel. It all depends on what you're looking for, this will influence your budget. Here are 5 things that can help you afford to make the trip you always wanted.
1. Think ahead
Planning your trip at least 6 to 12 months in advice is ideal, especially if it's an expensive one. Don't start planning this month for a trip next month when you're on a budget. There are too many things to consider on short notice. Accommodations, tickets, food, itinerary and even opportunity. You have to do your research and come up with an amount that you'll have to save to make the best of your trip. It's also often cheaper to book things like your accommodation or your flight from early. This means you'll have to give yourself time to save, book and save some more before the day you leave for your adventure.
2. Keep multiple savings accounts
If you have a job you should already have at least one savings account. Set up automatic withdrawals to go into your savings accounts every payday. $25-$50 to each account is a good start. I also have a savings account that I auto-deposit a percentage of all my debit purchases into. This way you can forget about it and always have money stashed. One account is extra cash in case of emergency. You should also keep an investment account that you cannot touch and will gain interest for long term goals like buying a car or home. The final account would be your travel savings, which will be separate so that you don’t spend it on “emergencies.” This also helps you see exactly how close you are to your goal.
3. Stay on a tight budget
There's always something new and shiny that we want, drinks to be had with friends and of course the things we "need." Minimizing these things can free up extra cash for your savings account. Unless you're a loner like me, this can be challenging but spending time with friends shouldn't have to be expensive. Denying yourself a few things now can allow you to do something you've always wanted to experience later. To me, thats worth it. Stay home, cook, reflect, save your money.
4. Stash any extra cash you get
If we're lucky, sometimes we get a little extra cash every now and then. Gifts, bonus, tax break, refund. Maybe someone asks you what you want for your birthday, request a financial contribution to you trip. Everything adds up. Whatever extra money you have, instead of spending it on anything else, use it to fatten your travel savings account. On top of your regular contributions, you'll be able to make that trip in no time.
5. Handle your debt
Make sure that you're always paying more than the minimum monthly payment. It can become difficult if things are tight but always try to pay off debt as soon as possible. You should aim to keep your balance below 1/3 of your limit. Not only is this good for your credit, you will also have more room on your card in case of travel emergencies. Don't consider your credit card part of your budget unless you intend to pay it off first thing when you make some money. Some also prefer to use credit when they travel. This is a great option if you intent to pay it off right away. You will have more fun on your vacation if you're not stressing over the debt you have to face when you get back. Don't spend what you don't have.
I hope these suggestions help you get out and see the world or even your own country. Comment below where you'd like to travel to next and share this post with the person you'd like to go with.
Thanks for reading,