How To: Save for Budget Travel

By the time you’ve paid rent, utilities, internet bill, phone bill, insurance, car payment, gym membership, and Netflix subscription, you’re usually left with just enough money to have some fun and buy your groceries. I hear it all the time…”How do you afford to travel?” It is not something that magically happens overnight. But it is simple.

My mother always used to tell my brother and I as kids, “You can do anything you want to do, if you want to do it badly enough.” Long before my spiritual journey, these words became a lesson from my childhood that I still often reflect on. I did not know how right she was at the time, but I would learn someday.

Before I go on, I’d like to address something very important. Money is a tool. Money will not make you happy regardless of how much you believe it is the missing factor. Nothing will ever be as valuable as being on your own time. This leads many to confuse freedom with money, but lets be clear: they stand alone. Now lets go to Europe!

First, review your spending habits. Do you buy your morning coffee at Starbucks a couple times a week? Do you buy things you “need” but know you may only use once or twice? Where do you and your friends go to hang out? Do you smoke a lot of cigarettes? Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to checking your bank account. Hold yourself accountable! Where can you be spending less?

Next, and once you can trust yourself with spending, do yourself the ultimate favor and apply for an air miles credit card. I use Capital One Venture. It gives you double points on all purchases and 40,000 bonus miles ($400 airline credit) when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Plus, you can use your miles on any airline. I use my credit card for all of my purchases and pay it off at the end of every month. I haven’t paid a cent on any of my departing flights (normally $500-$900 each).

With airfare out of the way and a firm grasp on your spending, it’s time to crunch numbers. I travel every year. When I am returning from a trip, it is immediately time to start planning and saving for the next one. I would recommend around 10 months of prep before your first trip, if you’re starting from the bottom. Let’s say you’re going to Europe for one month, and have a budget of $60 per day. You’ll need to have money in your account when you return, money to cover any additional airfare cost (whatever your miles don’t cover/baggage fees on cheaper airlines), and $1,800 for your expenses once you’re there. You should plan to return with about $3,000 (this also adds a nice emergency buffer, in case you ever need it). I’d plan for about $800 in extra airfare cost, depending on the time of year and where you are flying from. In total, you’d need to save $5,600. Over the course of ten months, starting with nothing, you’d need to save $560 per month. Most of you won’t be starting from absolute zero, but some of you may have some debt or costs to cover at home while you’re abroad.

Now I know some of you are saying, “Vanessa, there is no way I can save $560 a month, are you insane?” Light your doubts on fire and for a moment just imagine that it is not only possible but it is happening. Now hold on to that excitement and let it fuel you to the finish line. Your greatest obstacle is the belief that your dreams are out of reach. Print out pictures of your dream destination and look at them every morning and every night. Envision being there. It will not be as hard as you are conditioned to believe it will be. I will be posting more tips on saving as time goes on, but for now, just start here. Be excited!

The world is at your fingertips my loves. No matter what obstacles you think stand in your way, they can be overcome. Set yourself free. Unplug and venture far!

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