There are so many places you dream about visiting, but every time you look at your bank account balance, your face falls and you wonder if it will ever happen. Dreaming big is one thing—living big is another. Is it possible to take your dream vacation on a budget?
You actually may be closer to achieving your travel dreams than you think. There are many ways you can save up toward a trip. There are also a number of things you can do while traveling to cut your overall costs down. If you plan carefully, you may very well be able to take your dream vacation within the next couple years.
Look For Everyday Ways to Save and Earn More Money
The first thing you can do is go over your budget in detail and figure out where you are spending money unnecessarily and how you can reduce your ordinary everyday expenses in order to save for travel.
This may be possible even if you already budget pretty tightly. You may not be getting the best deal on your utilities for example. Or you may be wasting money on brand name products when you can buy generic goods for less. You might be spending more money than you need to on alcohol or non-essentials.
If you are diligent and focused, you can laser in on these excess expenses and eliminate them. For example, you might see credit card debt as an insurmountable drain on your cash flow. However, many credit card companies offer limited opportunities to do a balance transfer to a 0% interest credit card offer. But if you don’t start paying down your balance after you’ve transferred your balance, you’ll be right back to square one.
It takes discipline to stick with some of these changes, but it will all be worth it when you save up enough to go on that life-changing trip. The easiest way to get started is to download a free budget template and tweak it to meet your specific needs.
Get a credit card that offers travel rewards
You probably already use a credit card for your everyday expenses. It’s worth considering switching to a travel credit card.
With a travel credit card, your purchases allow you to earn points toward travel-related purchases. This includes hotel stays, restaurants, and flights. Some cards offer amazing promotions, like 100,000 bonus points after you spend your first few thousand dollars. Some have restrictions you do it within months of opening your account. If you anticipate a big expense coming up, this would be a great time to choose a credit card that offers rewards for travel.
Book Early and Travel Off-Season
If you know where you want to travel, and you have a pretty good idea as to when it should be possible, you can book your trip early. Doing so can save you a significant amount of money on the cost of airfare, cruises, accommodations, tours, and more.
It also gives you the chance to check how rates fluctuate throughout the year. There are many destinations where tourism is a seasonal industry, generally booming in either the summer or winter months, depending on the nature of the location. Therefore, if you are open to traveling outside peak season, you may find incredibly reasonable rates. Oftentimes this means saving hundreds of dollars a night on expensive hotel stays. This can add up to thousands of dollars overall for your trip.
We just visited San Diego in the off season where we went camping. We saved a lot of money not staying at pricey hotels by the beach. Also, we ate healthier and were able to travel green by cooking our own meals.
Take the Road Less Traveled
Popular destinations around the world are always going to be among the most expensive to visit because they are in high demand. Hotel owners, charter companies, and airlines know this, and price everything accordingly.
However, there are many exciting destinations which are off the beaten track. They will often cost significantly less because they are not on everyone’s bucket list. You will save money traveling to these lesser-known locations. You will also enjoy greater seclusion and a more unique travel experience.
On that note, how much of your own local region have you explored? Chances are good there are many opportunities for weekend breaks or longer trips within your own state to amazing destinations. Because these locations are closer to where you live, you will not have to pay nearly as much to go and visit them. Staycations support your local community. Staying local also minimizes your impact and supports sustainable travel and green travel efforts.
Look For Cheaper Ways to Travel
How will you journey to your destination—and how will you get around and sleep once you arrive? If you do your homework, you will find that there are many ways you can save money on transit and accommodations while you are seeing the world.
For example, instead of staying in hotels, you can try home swapping. You can camp in a tent, a 4WD vehicle, or motorhome, any of which you can rent. Tents for camping can now be rented online and shipped directly to your location. For your flight, you choose an airline which offers bare bones service at lower rates. Minimal service can mean no meals in flight, strict luggage requirements, etc.
Even if none of this was originally how you were planning on vacationing, sometimes taking your dream vacation requires rethinking your dream and envisioning it in a different way. You might not have imagined camping under the stars while touring the countryside, but you might love every minute of it. A budget flight may not sound like fun, but think of all the ways you could use the money you save at your destination. You could spend it on gourmet meals, luxury accommodations, or souvenir shopping. Or you could use it to extend your stay for a few extra days.
Taking Your Dream Vacation on a Budget
So if you still have not taken your dream vacation, get out your maps and start planning your itinerary. Think carefully about how you are going to budget your money during your trip. Consider how you could save up more beforehand to afford it. If you keep an open mind and you remain disciplined and committed to your budget, you may well find that the trip of a lifetime is within your reach after all!