5 Ways to Save for Travel
It wasn't that long ago that travel was reserved for the 'upper class' of society, a.k.a people who make loads and loads of dough.
Thankfully, technology, innovation, income gap reductions, improvement in infrastructure, and efficiencies have brought the price of air, sea and train travel to more accessible levels, but it's still a reality for most families and individuals that a little saving is required for a big trip.
As a seasoned traveller (and a notorious frugalista), here are my best 9 tips for saving for your next getaway.
1. Plan in Advance (But Not too far!)
Having a goal in mind, and a target of how much you need to save is critical. Do you want to go to Peru? China? New York? How many days/nights? How much is the plane ticket? Create a basic budget covering off all aspects of your trip. This will give you an estimate of what you need to save. Here's a free template to start your planning.
Planning in advance is critical but there is confusion around when the best time to book a plane or hotel stay is for cost savings. According to a study by Kayak.com, the lowest average airfares for domestic and international flights occur between 24-31 days prior to travel. The days you choose to travel also may play a role - BBC travel says if you're flying, fares are generally lowest on a Tuesday.
2. Start collecting points
If you're lucky (or unlucky! Ha!) to travel extensively for work, you are likely an avid travel points collector, but if not, start today. Sign up for Air and Hotel points program - often you can use these at non-travel locations like Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, Liquor Stores and even for online purchases to gain additional points.
The fastest way to earn points is through travel so make sure every trip you take, you provide your card number. Sign-up for their email offers which will give you insight into additional points promotions. Although there is some debate on cash back credit cards vs. points cards, some points cards may offer you additional benefits that are priceless, such as priority check-in, points multipliers, and even free points.
3. Take Stock of your spending
Yikes! A few years ago, I started using quickbooks and it was horrifying - in a good way. I was able to see ALL of my spending (and saving - or lack thereof), by category, month, week, day. It was an eye-opening experience. I wasn't able to keep up with the regular use of this but even the initial review was helpful to show where my spending was going - and it wasn't on essentials.
Understanding where you are spending money frivolously will help show where you can cut back. Are you eating out lunch everyday? Bringing your lunch could save you $50/week. Do you get a Tall Skinny Vanilla latte in the AM? Another potential $30/week.
Coupons are another good way to save on every day purchases. I have a coupon folder. No joke. It's an accordion folder and I try to scan the flyers (not in an extreme couponing type of way), to see if I can maximize and time savings for things like Dish soap, Dishwasher Detergent, Paper Towels, and other staples.
Go cash only. Every week determine your budget and take out the cash to cover it. Once your cash is up, challenge yourself to not spend more.
4. Increase your Income
There are two levers in an organization making profit - increasing revenue or reducing costs. In individuals, you can either spend less, to have more disposable income, or earn more money. Maybe a part-time job isn't in your time horizon, but that doesn't mean you can't earn a little extra dough.
Cleaning your closet is solid way to get some cash. Are there any items you don't wear that are in good condition? You can bring them to a consignment store or sell them yourself on eBay. Better yet - have a garage sale. I did a few years ago and it was so much fun - I made about $500 dollars selling stuff I never use.
Do you have special skills in an area? Are you a good photographer, copy writer, web programmer...? Elance.com, Odesk.com and Fivver.com are ways to hire out your skills to people who need them.
Do you have a free weekend or evening? Why not do some piecework or waitress at a banquet? You'll make a quick $100+ dollars plus tips and be able to stock that away.
5. Dial up your Savings
If you don't have an interest bearing savings account -get one now. Make sure it's no-fee. Most savings accounts have the option for an 'automated savings program' to be setup. I have one where every week the account pulls $100 from my chequing account - it's an amount that I don't notice but over time it builds.
If you're Canadian, I highly recommend ING Direct - they have an intuitive online interface and even the ability to setup a visual tracker towards a savings goal. I'm about halfway to my Bali trip savings. If you use the orange key below, you'll get $25 in your savings account (and I'll get a little love too!). Another tip - don't get a bank card for this account, or if they make you have one, hide it in a locked drawer. Not having access to money is another good way to sve.
Do you have a trip you're saving for? Where are you going? How do you save for travel? Post your tips below in the comments below!
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