Every traveler has fantasies of jetting off around the globe to secret European villages and the world's most beautiful islands. But the crushing reality is that travel costs money and for most travelers, this is not a limitless resource.
You may have started off this year with every intention of finally booking that bucket-list trip. But after a hard couple of winter months, you may have found your savings feeling slim. Do not despair — there is still time to save enough money to book a fabulous summer getaway.
Although you’re going to have to commit to your budget, it need not be as complicated as you imagine. It only requires planning, a bit of foresight and some motivation.
Here’s how you can start saving money, keep saving money and then enjoy it all on that epic trip you've been dreaming of.
1. Make a Budget
The first step in saving for a vacation is planning for it. Before you even think about your savings, plan out where you want to go, where you want to stay and what you want to do while you’re there. While you’re researching, keep a running tally of how much airfare, accommodations, food and activities will cost. After you’ve planned a vague itinerary, take the total estimated cost and write it on your calendar for your intended date of departure. Count how many weeks until you’d like to leave and divide your cost by the time you need to save. You now know how much you need to set aside each week in order to be able to afford your dream trip. Consider this “future spending” as opposed to saving or depriving yourself of current fun, a system that Financial advisors think is more mentally-effective.
2. Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk is not always the best option, but for the items you’re constantly using around the house, this is the best way to save a few bucks. Daily things like butter, alcohol, toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent and soap are best bought in large quantities. (And hey, if you join Costco, you can even book your vacation through them.) If you dislike carrying large bags home from the store, you can order in bulk online from Amazon Pantry and have it all delivered to your house.
3. Stay Motivated
Keep your goal in mind: Print out a picture of your dream destination. Tape it to your wall. Make it the background image on your phone or computer. Hell, even Photoshop yourself into the picture if it makes the goal feel more tangible. If you order food delivery from your bed or trawl through eBay on your couch, seeing a picture of the place where you want to travel could make you question whether or not that “must-have” purchase is really worth chipping away at your budget.
Related: The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2019
4. Cut Out Convenience
It is an unfortunate but undeniable fact that little purchases add up: a coffee pick-me-up in the middle of the afternoon, a packet of chips to hold you over until dinner or a newspaper to read during the commute. Go through your bank account and look for the places where you’re routinely spending just a couple of dollars. It’s likely that you’re spending money just for convenience — and it can add up. Cut out these purchases by stocking up on your impulse buys. Carry a reusable cup to make your own coffee, keep snacks in your desk or look for free TV shows, movies, books and magazines online.
5. Netflix and Save
Cancel your subscriptions. It may be hard to hear but you’re likely spending hundreds of dollars per year on different services that basically offer you the same thing. If you really can’t go without Showtime, HBO, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Spotify and all the other streaming platforms, consider gathering some friends and setting up a family account. You’ll cut down considerably on how much you’re spending if everybody agrees to contribute a few dollars to the same account every month.