Travel is an investment. Not only in yourself, but the world around you. If you travel with children even more so. Paying for travel should be approached with the same mindset as preparing for any other long term investment. Although one side doesn’t fit all, I’ve put together this short list that I used when initially planning my travels.
Pick your Travel Destination
One of the biggest mistakes people make making a travel budget is NOT picking a destination early. Sounds simple but people usually talk themselves out of travel even before they begin. Often times I hear, “flights cost thousands and hotels cost hundreds”. Well yes. Where are you going? *BLANK STARE*.
Flights from the U.S. to Japan can cost thousands. But they cost hundreds to Europe. Far less to Central America. Hotels vary greatly depending on the country you visit. A $150 hotel in London may cost you $40 in Bangkok. A $200 hotel in Buenos Aires may cost you $75 in Dubrovnik. LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION. Figuring out how much you need starts with finding out how much something cost. A few location thoughts
- Croatia. The coast is stunning and full of life. Compared to its Italian and Greek neighbors, it’s a downright steal.
– Thailand. I have no idea how but Thailand remains the best overall travel value in the world. No question.
– Colombia. Cheap, Safe, and beautiful. The stigma of Pablo Escobar still hangs over this stunning country. Resulting in reasonable prices and a light disbursement of tourist.
And remember, a decent holiday doesn’t have to be found abroad. More than enough great destinations lie in most home countries. If you’re American then you have the best country for tourism on the planet.
Find your Travel Style
Start by asking yourself the question, “How do I want to travel.” Seems simple but this is something very important to consider as it lays the foundation for how you plan to finance travel for yourself. Are you a 5 star hotel kind of person or a youth hostel dweller? Are you comfortable with sleeping on someone’s couch? Do you want to fly, drive, bus, or take a train? Maybe bike. This is possibly one of the most frustrating portions of travel planning because you don’t truly know because, (A) you’ve never been there or (B) you’ve never traveled. This takes personal research and insight on your part. And be honest with yourself. It could save you quite a bit of money. Travel budgets have been decimated when people travel outside of their price range. Travel budgeting truly depends on knowledge of yourself and your habits.
Personally I travel fast and light. I don’t mind sleeping in a ditch or a King Size bed. Less is more for me so a minimalist approach to travel is just fine by me. Here’s the budget I used in 2011 when planning my first year on the road. I searched the internet and found another travelers spread sheet format and modified it to my needs. This budget reflects my style of travel and is inflated in some areas just in case. Remember, every person is different and thus every budget is as well. Use my budget as a template.
TIP: If you would like a copy of the template to edit on your own and play around with send me an email.
Start Cutting cost TODAY
When you decide to create a travel budget you decide to SAVE. In today’s world of TV packages, student loans, and soaring fuel prices that can be hard. But it all starts with cutting what you spend and letting go of financial burdens. Let’s look at a few places you can start cutting cost to get started with travel budgeting.
YOU DON’T NEED (or things I didn’t need)
– Cable/ Satellite TV: I was paying about 90 a month. I realized that I really never watched TV outside of sports. Once I figured out how to download and stream everything TV disappeared. It’s not only a money waster but a time waster as well. I think I searched for something to watch more than I actually watched.
– Super fast Internet: I went from a $50 plan to a $20 plan. Couldn’t tell the difference much. My downloads were a little slower but that’s about all. Gaming, uploading, and surfing remained close to the same.
– EATING OUT: Possibly the biggest money pit and simplest to fix. I was easily spending $400 a month eating out and that’s on the low end. If you think that’s too high imagine if you grab a cup of coffee and lunch 5 days a week. A cup of coffee is $3 ($15 for the week) on the cheap side. And you go to a decent lunch place. Average is going to be about $10 ($50 a week) plus tip in the U.S. That’s already $260 without a breakfast and dinner meal. Start cooking. If you don’t know how, LEARN. I was able to cut down to maybe $100 a month eating out. I became healthier and wealthier for it. Imagine saving $260 a month. $3120 a year. Holiday fund complete. You’re welcome
– To drive everywhere: Now this was HUGE for me. The thing about Austin, and many other U.S. cities, is you can take a bus or bike pretty much everywhere you really need to go. BUT it takes effort. That alone saved me $500 a month in car payments, parking, tolls, gas, and pure anger from the ridiculous traffic here. Not to mention how amazing I felt cycling again. I cycled to work and home every day. If you really need to go somewhere rent a car. I’m going to teach you how I rent from Avis for around $50 total for an entire weekend.
– Designer clothes and shoes: I was that guy. Designer suits, Ed Hardy (I know I know), and nice coats. I ONLY wore classic white Reebok or Adidas sneakers. I went through my closet and realized much of the stuff I owned I didn’t wear more than a few times and was wasting money like water. I eventually donated 7 lawn bags full of clothes to the Goodwill. I now have one suit (had 8), three dress shirts, three pair of jeans, three pair of shorts, and a bunch of t-shirts and underclothes. I don’t care whose name I’m wearing on my ass (I literally had a dragon and tiger fighting on my ass once and not in the good way).
Finding Side Money and Keeping It
Sell EVERYTHING you don’t need: Realistically, this should be the first place you look when travel budgeting. Do you really need that crock pot, XBOX 360, or armoire? I sold everything. Not only because I wanted to travel but I realized I didn’t need any of it. 90% of what I own I carry with me. The rest fits in a truck and two boxes at my friends place. Everything else is replaceable. I netted about $3000 from selling my stuff. What’s more important to you? Stuff or experiences?
TIP: If you haven’t used something in 3-4 months then how much do you really need it? Go through our place and pick 5 things you could see today if all else failed. Now why do you still have them?
Debt consolidation and adjustments: This can not only help you finance travel, but help you maintain a good quality of life. Some people mistakenly believe I have no debt. WRONG!!! I have bills. I have debt. I’m going to pay it back…..eventually. HEHEHEHE. Seriously, debt collectors will be there. If you already have bad credit like me, what’s another few months going to do? Hell I hope I die with a million worth of debt. Kidding……kind of. Some people will not like this advice, especially debt companies, but the truth remains. Don’t let your debt control you. Control it. Am I saying to tell debt companies to ****off? Yup!!! They’ll do it to you.
If you have good credit, contact your debtor and ask them to skip a few payments if things get too tight. I did this with a credit card and they were all for it since I never missed payments. My friend was able to get two months of payments cleared. All you have to do is ask. For student loans, look into deferments. You never know. This is short term planning. By no means make this a long term strategy.
Buy USED. I pretty much buy everything major used. I would say 90% of the things I own are used. Craigslist, Ebay (not so much these days), and the Goodwill are great.
Tip: Don’t let debt control you. Debt is a hustle. They will bleed you for every cent. If you can get away do it. Another option is a settlement on very old debt. Say you owe $500 and your debt is old. Call them and tell them you’ve got $250 to clear it. You’d be surprised how many debt collectors will take something over nothing especially in this economy. The easiest way to get out of debt is to never get in it. BOOM!!!! If you can’t buy it then you don’t need it.
Put Your Skills to Use
Clearly the best way to finance travel. GET ANOTHER JOB!!!! As I said above, I made decent money but not a lot. I knew that I had to do something to fund this trip so I got a summer job. Now I initially had calculated it would take about 2 years to save the money I needed with my primary source of income only. My job at the Department of Motor Vehicles cut that by a year. The pay was FANTASTIC, people were great, and I was doing something I’m passionate about. Teaching. Although I was only given a four month contract, I was able to make enough money to fund 50% of my trip around the world and met some amazing people. The reason I’m telling this story is to drive home a point.
We all have talents. I was able to get that position because of two things. 1. I had experience 2. I know how to ace an interview. Use the skills that you have. If you can knit a mean sweater, sell them. If you make pies then send me one, for a price of course. Are you in great shape? Thought about personal training people? Good at math? How about tutoring? In life we all have to make sacrifices to get what we want. What’s more important?
This is the BEST WAY to fund your trip. Part of travel budgeting is increasing cash flow. One job pays the bill and another pays for your trip. Let’s do some quick math. Say your first job covers all bills. You get a part time job. 20hrs a week at 7.15 (minimum wage). Take out 33% for taxes (and that’s on the high side) and you get about $4598 a year. That’s “free” money. Saving almost 5 grand a year is pretty good no matter why you’re doing it.
These tips are just a road map. Travel Budgeting is tough. But my overall point is DO SOMETHING. Paying for travel is relatively straight forward and simple when you break it down. You just need to decide to do it.
What are some of your tips to pay for Travel?