Global travel isn’t cheap, but that doesn’t have to stop your family from going places. A pre-existing and bountiful travel budget isn’t the only way to get where you want to go. Life is full of choices we have to make about what matters to us. If having global experiences with your family is what matters to you, don’t let money be a barrier. Now I’m not saying that you should empty your bank account and fly off to a resort. Smart preparation will be the key. It may take some time to make it happen, but the important thing is that you make it happen.
One of my favorite things about travel is having my next trip planned. At work people know about my travel bug, so elevator small talk often leads to, “Where are you going next?” I always have an answer. Jay and I may not have the money saved yet or the vacation time built up, but we will. I have a plan and I’ll make it happen.
Here’s how we do it:
- Pay the travel budget first
- Budget in what you aren’t buying
- Choose your destination with budget in mind
- Leverage frequent flier miles
- Rent out your house/apartment
Here are 6 ways you can build a travel budget and get to where you want to go.
1. If travel is a priority, make it a priority
For me, travel is a family priority. If we were to have a family strategic plan (which I’d never admit to here, but it really seems like a good idea, doesn’t it?) it would be all about international travel. What this means for me is that when a discretionary expense comes up I think about how many nights of a hotel it would cover. A new couch for the living room? 5-10 nights of lodging. Dinner out when I have the makings in the fridge? 3-5 meals on a trip. But even if you aren’t willing to trade expenditures to build up savings for your trip, there are lots of things you can do.
2. Pay your travel budget first
One of my family financial management strategies is to distribute every paycheck into a set of buckets. Jay’s bucket (which he uses mostly for camera equipment), Kymber’s bucket, savings for emergencies, and the sub-account titled “NO TOUCH TRAVEL.” When I started this system I was surprised how fast trip money built up. I put enough in so I can pay for three quarters of 1-2 trips per year. About $400 per paycheck – like I said: priorities. This gets us to almost $9,600 and is usually more than we need depending on where we are going. If you are going on one trip to a relatively inexpensive location you could probably get away with with $200 per paycheck depending on how many plane tickets you have to buy.
You don’t have to have the full amount covered because…
3. You save on usual expenses while on vacation
It took us by surprise when we arrived home from Morocco. Our bank account was…about even. Depending on how you spend, there are many day-to-day expenses that just don’t come up while you are out of town. Groceries, restaurants, lattes are all set aside while on vacation. Of course you’ll be buying other things, but if you choose your destination carefully the cost of a basic restaurant meal in the US can get you a day of food and lodging with some to spare on a trip. Nepal, Morocco, mainland Ecuador were all very reasonable on the budget.
4. Go somewhere less expensive
If we headed to Iceland for each vacation we’d be in serious trouble (yes, Iceland is crazy expensive). There is a time and place for a pricier trip, but make sure to mix in several less expensive destinations. Homestays in Nepal and Morocco were very reasonable and so much more fun. A decent lunch could be had for the cost of a latte.
Wong mu’s house in Hil.
5. Use frequent flier tricks
The most expensive part of trips is usually the airfare. This won’t be new information, but using airline mileage plans strategically can significantly defray (or eliminate) the cost of flights. We are still on the learning edge of this one, but there is a lot out there about different strategies. We use miles-getting cards for everything, then pay them off each month.
6. Rent out your house or apartment
This may be something that you haven’t considered. We’ve rented our house on AirBnb several times now during our long vacations. This comes with work and some extra risk, but we made up to $2000 on some trips. That defrayed more than half our trip costs. We did have to clean so much that it no longer looked like our house and just hoped that no one opened the closet door. All of the renters have been lovely and although a wine glass got broken they replaced it with four new ones so I think we came out ahead.
This isn’t our house, but you get the idea.
I am sure I missed some of your genius tips. How do you create a travel budget?