I will be the first to admit that saving money is not my specialty, but I have found ways to make it work through trial and error. Here is what has worked for me:
1. Booking my trip in advance. If I book the flight and hotels 4-6 months in advance, then I am forced to save money for the trip because I won’t cancel. Flights and (sometimes) hotels are non refundable so it doesn’t make sense to book something and then not go. I work hard for my money so I don’t want it to go to waste on a trip I paid for but didn’t take.
2. Having a designated amount withdrawn from my check and put into a travel savings account. This way, I don’t see the money each pay check so I won’t miss it. Out of sight, out of mind. I highly recommend this method for saving for future trips. Make sure to have your money go to an account where you don’t have a debit card linked to it. This will ensure that you won’t take out money until it is time to use it.
3. Hoarding miles on my credit card for future use. On one trip, the Partner and Crime had enough miles for both of us to fly for free to Europe. This made life a lot easier and the trip more economical. If you don’t already have a sky miles reward credit card, look into getting one. They pay off in the end if you travel a lot.
4. Creating a travel fund jar. We have a container on our counter where loose change and extra money goes. In Michigan, you get $0.10 for every bottle you return so we also put all of our refund money in the jar as well. Right before we leave for a trip, we count all of the money. For some reason it is more fun to guess how much we have before we actually use it. Depending on how much is in there, we may use it for food at the airport or pay for a guided tour. It’s great because it’s money we never accounted for or budgeted into our trip. It’s like a mini pay-day right before we leave.
5. Over estimating my spending money. For each trip, I over estimate what I need for food, gifts, and any other purchases that may come up. Whatever is left, I roll over into my next trip. One year, I over estimated by a lot. I immediately took my left over money and purchased a plane ticket to Istanbul, Turkey.
I know that there are lots of ways to save money and I only hit the tip of the iceberg. As I travel more, I am confident that I will find better ways to pay for my excursions. For now, these five steps are working well for me.