In 2012, I crossed one major dream trip off my list: a gluttonous tour of Italy, focusing on agriturismos throughout Emilia Romagna. And while it may take more than a year for me to save up for the next dream trip, I’ve resolved to start planning—and more importantly, putting aside the cash—to make it happen.
The destination and length of my trip are to be determined—but I know I want to safari in good company, particularly with friends who call Zimbabwe home. We’ll likely spend a few relaxing days in Harare before taking off on a game-tracking adventure, likely in nearby Zambia or South Africa. I've already started mining our recent safari planning guide to get a sense of cost, but even with friends on the ground, I know this vacation won’t run cheap. Here, a few tools that will help me start saving.
• MyTab.co: The Italian getaway was only possible with the help of my honeymoon registry. I won’t be getting married again in 2013 (phew!), but birthday and holiday presents can still go into my travel fund. MyTab.co serves just this purpose, allowing users to collect money (from gifts and from personal savings) that must be used for travel. The best part? A “match my cash” program that earns users discounts on flights and hotels.
• Mint.com: My husband and I have used Mint.com since merging bank accounts, but I’d love to maximize its potential in the new year. The tool, which analyzes where your money goes, can help me pinpoint areas where I can spend less (taxis, mid-week lunches)—then, it’ll show me how much leftover cash I have at the end of each month.
• Miles, miles, miles: Getting to southern Africa will represent a large fraction of my total trip costs. I’ve been collecting miles, and will continue to do so, but if you’re not, check out this handy graphic from NerdWallet.com, which outlines the great sign-up bonuses that travel cards shell out for new users. Signing up for a card can earn up to 40,000 points—almost half of what you’d need for a long-haul flight on most airlines.
What trip are you saving for in 2013? Do you have tips we should add to our list? Let us know in the comments!
Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.