There are many blog posts on money saving habits for affording travel and they all have some good ideas – things like forgoing Starbucks, sticking to cheap wine, packing lunches, putting loose change in a jar, etc. And those are all valid and important considerations, for sure.
But here’s the dirty little secret, the thing they forget to mention:
None of that matters if you don’t remember every single day what you’re saving for.
Because life will always get in your way. Something will always crop up or seem important or valid or relevant in that given moment.
So you wanna know what to do? What I think is the single best tip for saving money to travel?
Plan it out. PLAN. IT. OUT.
Plan out every excruciating detail. Think about it, dream about it, journal it. Google everything and anything. Make lists. Choose restaurants. Think of it as a bucket list for each destination. What do you want to do, see, taste, experience, try while you’re there? Make a Pinterest board and get after it.
That’s not to say you can’t leave room for spontaneity. But in my experience, if the thing you want isn’t front and centre in your mind, you’re never gonna get it.
This weekend alone I blew my budget on unnecessary makeup items, just because for one second, one day, I forgot what my goals really are. I feel annoyed with myself but considering that I live and breathe travel and I still forgot – I still lost focus – it totally reminded me why this is so crucial.
It’s imperative for me to plan so I can remember how badly I want it when a fancy dinner is calling my name, or when I’m sure my boots couldn’t possibly survive another two months of winter, or when I think a weekend away is what I really need, or even when something small comes up like wanting the newest lipstick. All those things, the little and the big, add up and keep you one step further from your travel goals.
So print out photos and hang them on your walls or write a note to yourself and put it in your wallet or journal each and every detail (like I’m doing!) – do whatever will help you stay focused and on track every day.
Save room for spontaneity within the trip itself if that matters to you, but plan. Figure out as many costs as you can but also build in a buffer (you don’t want to get stuck short on money!). Look at activities you will want to do and price them out. Check more than one source to make sure you have a balanced budget.
And then when you go to have a meal out you can say to yourself “this meal is exactly half of what I would need to spend for a night in a castle” or “three Starbucks equals one extra museum entry” etc. You get the gist.
Plan and you cannot fail to get there, because your priority will be staring you straight in the face every day.
Happy planning! Where will you go first?