If you’re thinking to yourself right now, “I want to travel, but I’m not sure where to start,” then this series running this week is for you! I will be outlining the steps to start traveling, starting long before you book the trip, through the planning process and then afterwards. So follow along all week for my How to Plan a Trip 101 Series!
I get asked a lot how we’re able to travel as much as we are financially. And while the answer to that gets really complicated really quickly because a lot of planning over many years has gone into this idea of frequent travel, but in short, an easy answer to that question is: Nick and I have worked really hard and on many fronts for many years, as well as saving money in our day to day life to be able to travel frequently. In truth, it’s taken us a number of years to work our way up to be able to afford to travel as much as we do now and I think sometimes that goes a bit unnoticed. We both have been with our companies for almost 10 years, working our way up to positions that offer us more autonomy and of course, more money. I have been growing my design business for 8 years, building relationships with clients and expanding my portfolio of services. I’ve also been teaching part time for 3 years now at my alma mater. Without even looking at the saving money for travel part of the equation, we have spent years working our way to where we are financially right now. It doesn’t happen overnight, that’s the first lesson of the finances to travel question.
And while the path to earning more money in order to travel takes time, there are also things that you can start doing right now in order to save more money for travel. I should also preface this post by saying that I’m a firm believer in not spending all your money on travel, there are other things that are important to save for as well so be sure in your saving for travel, you are also saving for things like an emergency savings fund, a 401K and/or mortgage/rent, etc. Travel is a lovely accessory to your life but be sure it’s not taking every cent of money you have and leaving you vulnerable in your day to day life!
Ok, so after all that, you still want to travel but you need to start saving money to do it. Here’s a few tips that work for me in my day to day life and really can add up quickly!
Buy a $100 Nespresso machine and stop going to Starbucks.
I know, I know, this is on every “saving money” list out there but there’s a reason for it, it’s completely true. A little over a year ago, I bought a little $100 Nespresso coffee machine and my Starbucks habit is essentially gone. Of course, every now and then I indulge but my daily coffee is made at home and that $3.75 per day habit has ended up saving me a ton of money. If you drink a lot of coffee, this is a must for saving a ton of money in the long term.
Make your breakfasts and lunches at home.
Again, this is usually a go-to for saving money advice, but again, it’s so true. In January this year, one of my goals was to start eating a little healthier, particularly with my breakfasts and lunches. I’ve always been really picky with my breakfasts in particular and for a while last year, my breakfast ended up consisting of me running to my local bakery to grab a bagel or a croissant. And while super unhealthy to have all the time, it was also adding up in cost. $3 here and $4 there every day is a lot of money over time. Starting this year, I’ve been focusing on making my breakfasts and lunches at home and I’ve noticed a huge savings in food over the past few months. If you struggle with this, I feel like this could be another huge post but meal prepping and having a few set options for both breakfast and lunch has really helped me real in my spending on this note.
Start a Saving Account just for Travel and any extra you have, put in there.
I have a specified Savings Account just for Travel that I don’t touch unless I’m putting money in there for travel or taking it out for travel. Having a separate account really helps to narrow your saving for a specific thing. Instead of that coffee for $4, put that in your savings account. Instead of spending $15 for lunch, put that in your savings account. Once you see it start growing, I promise it will all be worth it!
When people ask me how we save so much money, one of the first things I say is that while we enjoy a great meal out, neither of us are big drinkers. I might have a glass of wine every once in a while, but Nick doesn’t drink at all. In short, that saves us a ton of money. Alcohol is expensive and when you add up how much those drinks are costing you, whether at home or out at a restaurant or bar, the tab goes up really fast. All that money you’re spending on a couple drinks at dinner could go into your savings account and help it grow that much faster.
Call your cable company or drop cable all together.
A couple years ago our cable bill grew to almost $200 per month and I had simply had enough. While I do like to have my shows that I follow and enjoy laying on the couch after a long day just watching some mindless TV, I wasn’t quite ready to pull the plug on cable completely. But I priced out how much it would be for us to switch to Hulu, Netflix and Sling TV and in short, I could get the same access to the shows I follow for $100/month. I called Comcast, our local provider, and basically told them I was quitting my service that day if they couldn’t get me everything I currently had (including DVR and HD channels) for close to $100. And while it took an hour on the phone and pushing them harder than I would have liked to, I ended up with a new cable bill including all the same things for $105/month. That extra $100 per month can go directly into your travel savings fund and then in a year, you’ve got $1,200 in there! Call you cable company today and tell them what you want or just drop it all together and you’ll save a ton of money.
Put large chucks like bonuses or tax refunds directly in your savings account.
When we get large chunks of money like bonuses from work or tax refunds, that money goes directly into our savings account. And while it’s nice to go splurge on that new purse or whatever else you might like, it’s better in the long run to just move it directly to your savings and save yourself the temptation. When you’re wandering Paris in 12 months on that money, you can thank me later!
Hold yourself to $30 at Target.
For years my Mom has laughed at me when I go to Target and only spend about $30. I go in, buy my essentials and leave. She always laughs because she says I’m the only person she knows that goes in to Target and doesn’t come out with $200 worth of stuff. But whatever your store is that you might know you’ll overspend, hold yourself to a specific limit on price and don’t overspend. That other $170 can go straight to your travel fund and think how much that adds up even with a few times per year!
Think of saving money as a project.
In my creative field, I like to think of things as projects so that I have an ultimate end goal to get to. Think of saving money like that – with a true end goal in mind. If you have some trip off in the future that you’re not sure where you’ll go or when it will be, it’s harder to save for an arbitrary idea. But if you have a trip to Paris in 12 months that you need to save for, it makes it more real and easier to actually save for. Think of it as a real tangible thing and you’ll have more motivation to save.