I’ve gotten several requests about how I plan my trips and vacations. Most people have the same questions: Where do I start? How do you plan a vacation on a budget? Do I book the airline or the room first? Believe me, I have had the same questions bombard me at one point. Luckily, I have found a system that works for me! Over the next couple of posts I will go in to detail and help everyone plan their next adventure. (So stay tuned and follow along!) When I travel I still have a main goal: get the best deal possible within a certain extent. Over the years, I am fortunate enough to avoid traveling on a shoestring budget, but I am ALWAYS money conscious – it’s just in my DNA. :] The more money I save on this trip, the more money goes toward my next adventure. And my world keeps spinning ’round.
First, I would set up a separate savings account for your travels. Let’s be honest, most people don’t go on vacations because “they don’t have the money”. There is an easy solution. We have a vacation savings – sometimes it has $60 in it, other times it has over a $1500. The amount always depends on whether we just came back from a trip or are fixing to go on one. There is no set number that has to be in our vacation savings – it is flexible to our needs, there are no requirements to stress about. If we want to put money in our vacations savings, we do and if we don’t feel it’s necessary or we would rather do or buy something else (which is literally never – but in the event that it MIGHT happen) we spend our money that instead of investing it in our vacation savings. We don’t really have a money budget because we are ALWAYS money conscious. Do we need it? Do we want it? Do we have to have it? Probably not. It is a matter of what you want to sacrifice. I can count on one hand how many times we have gone out since the beginning of this year. Lucky for us, we are homebodies. We love our sweatpants, Netflix and our home gym. This works to our advantage. I always looking at things with the perspective of: “I’d rather spend a night laying on the beach looking at the star in Nicaragua than go have some drinks at the local bar.” To each their own though – if going out is an important part of your life than look elsewhere, could you cut back on fast food? Or do you really need the latest iPhone or handbag? Unless you are extremely well off and have an expendable income, sacrifice is just going to be something you have to endure whether it is minor or a major change for you. I absolutely love the quote:
I truly believe it. (And yes, that is one of my iPhone photos from our trip to Maui :P) I have always had a gypsy soul – nothing pains me more than feeling trapped or held down in a certain place. I never wanted anything more than to travel, and as I got older that fantasy turned in to a goal and then became a reality. Once you’ve taken “that trip”, the one that you see things you’ve never seen and experience a different culture your world suddenly becomes vast with infinite adventures and experiences that lurk around each corner. This is the fuel to make those sacrifices in your finances. That trip is the spark you need to travel. My spark was when I had the honor of photographing a wedding in Florence, Italy. It was my first time in Europe and it was quite possibly a National Lampoon Vacation with everything going wrong, but in the same sense, everything was just right. I remember standing on the veranda of our loft, taking in a huge breath of air and thinking, I might be back one day – but for others they will never breath this air, see this sunset, ride bikes through these cobblestone streets, or taste this real Italian food.
You can set up a direct transfer from your primary account and transfer $25 every week – it will all add up fast! You don’t even have to think about it if you set it up to automatically transfer and depending on the amount you decide to transfer – you might not even notice that money going away. We like to put money back sporadically $100 here, $20 there, $50 here, etc. For us this system works because our income fluctuates every month, week and heck, daily for that matter. Typically, everyone can spare about $20 here and there. Instead of _______ – make a sacrifice and put that money towards an adventure. We love to indulge every now and again, but we love to travel more so all our extra money goes in to our vacation savings. You will be surprised how fast it adds up! One day, you will see your balance, it could be within weeks or longer depending on your investment and your destination, and you’ll be ready for the next step!
Once your savings is ready for a trip, I advise finding someone to share the adventure with. I obviously travel with my husband. We want to seize the opportunity now before health or age or anything else may deter us from traveling the world together. Traveling with my husband is one of the most fulfilling opportunities I have had in my life. I treasure every moment with him, but those moments in which we are discovering a new place together are uniquely special. I am fortunate to have my husband who has a strong desire to travel as well. Find someone – your significant other, best friend, cousin, sibling – anyone to travel with. I would never suggest traveling alone – some do, but I just look at it like: if I was to get hit by a car walking across the street nobody would know who I am, who to call, where I am from or anything about me. I could randomly go missing (I mean, don’t act like Taken didn’t terrify you.) and I love my father, but he is no Liam Neeson. It is just scarily unsafe to travel alone – especially overseas – in my perspective. But if you do, constant communication is very smart incase of an emergency. I know those “find yourself” stories of strong women traveling alone to nowhere specific are inspiring, but please be careful and realistic.
Typically, if you know you are accumulating money towards a vacation or trip your wanderlust will spark and that will get your wheels turning. And you will have someone equally excited and soon you will both be researching amazing things to do and see. Now, you can’t wait! On to the fun part.. planning! :) Stay tuned for my best tips and tricks on how we travel smarter not harder. Need some travel inspiration? Take a peak at my Wanderlust Pinterest board!