I’ve heard that line so many times when people ask me about my past and upcoming travel plans. They often act like attaining the goal of taking a trip similar to mine equates to completing the quest for the Holy Grail. Travel and vacations typically aren’t free, so yes, some travel budgeting is necessary for those of us who are not independently wealthy or heir to some throne or corporate fortune. On the other hand, if planned properly, an amazing vacation experience can be had without breaking the bank.
There are myriad ways to mitigate the impact a vacation has on your bank account. But, before we even touch upon how to keep travel costs down during the planning and booking phase, a bit of common sense (what’s that?!) comes into play. The first thing I would recommend to people who are covetous of a spectacularly fun getaway would be to evaluate their current spending habits. For example, someone who stops at Starbucks or another similar coffee shop daily and buys a coffee every day on the way to work would spend over $1000 per year (presuming 5 days a week for 52 weeks at an average of $4 per overpriced cafe latte). Or, someone who eats lunch in a restaurant every workday would, similarly, spend $2600 per year (presuming an average of $10 per lunch). The money wasted on those daily coffees and fast food type lunches, when totaled, would pay for quite a nice little getaway in my book. Or if you put away just a measly $25 per week that you would have otherwise wasted on frivolities, after just two years, you would have accumulated $2600 to apply toward a very nice vacation of your choice. Of course, some trips would cost more; some, obviously, would cost less. For one, I would happily do without that daily Starbucks habit in favor of stashing some cash for my next adventure. To that point, just about a year ago, after I realized that I was paying approximately $130 per month for a ridiculous cable TV plan for service that I may have utilized a couple of hours per month, I pulled the plug on U-Verse. Originally, I had planned to decrease service to a minimal level, but then decided to go cold turkey — turn off cable all together and see if I missed it. A full year later, I have to say that my life hasn’t changed at all for not having TV in my house. Sure, I can watch shows streaming or on Netflix, but I rarely even do that; so, I consider that $1500 per year that I’m saving by foregoing cable TV service to be a part of my annual travel budget. Sure, I could still have cable and go on my trips, but the savings I’ve realized helps me justify my travel addiction.
Once we get past the common sense ideas to budget for travel (or other luxuries), there are so many tools available these days to help compare prices and options to help keep costs as low as possible. Those tools, even just the ones I’ve used in the past (and there are so many more I’ve never used and may not even know exist), warrant a complete discussion of their own, since the wealth of information available at our fingertips so very comprehensive. As such, I’ll leave that discussion for a later date.
In the meantime, why not sit back and evaluate some of those little daily expenditures and their true worth for adding value to your life? That’s what I’ve done and continue to do, since a coffee is a coffee, but a vacation offers a wealth of experiences and memories.
It’s all about the priorities, isn’t it?