If you’re like most avid travelers, as soon as you land from your last trip you’re already planning your next one. Unless you have an unlimited trust fund (lucky you!), you might have to do a little juggling and saving in order to finance the next leg of your round-the-world, that Caribbean cruise or a care-free month in Spain. And while you don’t need a winning lottery ticket for killer trip, you do need to be smart about it.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you save money for your next trip:
The “B” Word In order to save anything at all, you’re going to have to start with a budget. It might sound like a dirty word, but budgets really are your friend. Whether you use a notebook, an Excel spreadsheet or a user-friendly program like Mint.com, simply track your expenses for a month, then sit down and figure out where you can save money. (Photo credit: http://www.welovecostarica.com/watching/)
Sacrifice—the Payback is Awesome This is where you cut the fat on your day to day expenses and funnel the money into that online bank account (the one without the immediate access ATM.) What can you do? Step down from that premium cable plan to a basic one, reduce or eliminate that designer caffeine addiction, brown bag it at lunch time, head to the library instead of the Kindle store (many libraries lend Kindle books, by the way), cook at home… Get creative!
Take the Challenge You might have heard about the “52 Week Money Challenge” that cropped up around the Internet earlier this year. Some think it’s silly, but others swear by it. Basically, all you do is on week 1 you put a $1 in a jar (box, envelope, whatever), week 2 is $2, week 3 is $3 and so on. By the end of the year you will have saved $1,378.00. Some people do it backward, starting with $52 and work their way down—either way, it’s an easy and pretty painless way to save money for your next ticket (at least!)
Automate, Automate Get yourself in “accumulation mode” and set up an automatic transfer from your bank account to your travel savings account—one set up in an online facility that you can’t access instantly. Set it up to coincide with your paychecks, so basically you’re “paying yourself first” before it goes bye-bye in lattes and eBooks. You’d be surprised how quickly $25 or $50 adds up! You might want to check out SmartyPig, touted as a “free online piggy bank for people saving for specific financial goals.” Like a trip.
Sign Up for a Rewards Card Are you disciplined enough to pay your credit card balance every month and not go over your limits? Then sign up for a rewards card and reap the benefits. Put all of your monthly expenses on it and watch the goodies accumulate. You might have to do a little research, as the rewards and benefits fluctuate greatly between cards, plus the airlines have gotten very finicky. As of post time, an article in MSN Money mentioned the Capital One Venture card as the expert favorite, with the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest cards recommended by CardRatings.com managing editor.
Clean Out Your Closet The same goes for your garage, your attic and your basement if you have one. Host a garage sale or post it all on craigslist or eBay. Just make sure you don’t linger on the sites and end up spending it all!
Whether you choose to follow all the tips or just a couple, either way you’ll end up with a nice little stash you can blow in the best way possible: by traveling.
Do you have any money-saving trips that have helped you finance your travel?
Don’t forget to put a little of that away and purchase a SkyMed TAKES YOU HOME membership if you’re headed around North America, or a Global Emergency Travel Services package if you’re going abroad. The LAST thing you want is to blow it all on a medical emergency!