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 a killer trip, you 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
To save anything at all, you’re going to have to start with a budget. It might sound like a dirty word, but budgets are your friend. Whether you use a notebook, an Excel spreadsheet or a user-friendly program like Mint.com, simply track your monthly expenses, then sit down and figure out where you can save money.
Sacrifice—the Payback is Awesome
This is where you cut the fat on your daily 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 legacy cable plan to a streaming plan, reduce or eliminate that designer caffeine addiction, brown bag it at lunch time, borrow books from the library instead of buying (most have e-reader selections), 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 $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 working their way down—either way, it’s an easy and pretty painless way to save money for your next ticket (at least!)
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 you’re “paying yourself first” before it goes bye-bye in lattes and Amazon. 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 your monthly expenses on it and watch the goodies accumulate (just make sure you pay it off monthly, so you don’t pay those awful interests). 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, Forbes online mentioned the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card as the best overall reward card, followed by Chase Sapphire Preserved and Chase Sapphire Reserve.
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. Make sure you don’t linger on the sites and end up spending it all, though!
Whether you follow all the tips or just a couple, you’ll end up with a nice little stash you can blow in the best way possible: by traveling.
Don’t forget to put a little of that away and purchase a SkyMed TAKES YOU HOME membership. The LAST thing you want is to blow all your hard-earned on a medical emergency—it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it!