Traveling is not cheap, and it’s definitely not easy. A vacation can take months to research, plan, and save for, depending on the destination and duration.
Despite this, travel demand has steadily increased following the COVID-19 pandemic. As of May 18, 2023, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had screened 2,627,978 passengers compared to 2,366,865 in 20223. That’s not quite back to pre-pandemic levels. But it’s close.
Even though travel is still lower than 2019, there is a shortage of airline seats, hotel rooms, and overworked staff. There are plenty of deals to be had if you look hard enough. However, competition is fierce as ever to get consumers back on the road — especially during the summer when 85% of Americans plan to travel.
Thankfully, there are ways to budget for an unforgettable vacation. But, first, you have to simplify your life.
Limit your purchases.
“Generally I try not to buy many things,” says Erin Spens, editor and co-founder of Boat magazine. “I’d much rather have the time and money to travel than work like crazy just to buy stuff.”
Erin considers the places she has visited and the memories she has, even when she sees something that she’d really want to own. “And that helps me put ‘value’ into perspective,” she adds.
Small purchases aren’t the only thing to consider. You may also want to second-guess your larger purchases. For example, when my friends bought their first home they chose to buy a smaller house. They could have afforded something bigger. However, they used the savings from owning a smaller home on travel.
Sell what you don’t need.
How about the stuff you already own?
Basically, if you have things you don’t want or need, you should sell your stuff. Your closet may be filled with clothes that you don’t wear, collections of things you don’t value anymore, and valuables that you’d rather trade in for an international trip.
Selling your unused and unworn clothes and accessories can earn you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If you have vintage clothing, sell some of it on Etsy. You can also list your clothing on commission-based platforms like Poshmark, ThredUP, Depop, or a local consignment shop.
Have some old gadgets you want to sell? Check out Declutter or trade-in programs from Apple or Best Buy.
For your valuables, you can’t beat eBay. But, for less valuable and larger items, list them on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or OfferUp.
If you plan to travel, learning how to live with less is highly recommended. I suggest you start by visiting one of the best minimalist blogs out there, Zen Habits. It has inspiring stories and minimalist living tips that you should check out now.
You can also save money by living a minimalist lifestyle by following these tips:
- Don’t shop for quantity, shop for quality. It is likely that reducing frequent purchases will save you money over the long run, even if the price is higher at the time. Plus, it reduces waste.
- Reduce. Minimalism emphasizes getting rid of unnecessary items. Start by identifying what is useful in your life and what isn’t. You can then start to get rid of things that don’t add any value to your life once you have cut them down.
- Eliminate one obligation from your life. Ideally, you should avoid things that do not fulfill your passions and pursuits. For example, instead of eating at a trendy restaurant, invite your friends over for dinner.
- Cut down on monthly bills. Cut the cord or cancel services you don’t need anymore, such as that expensive gym membership. With Truebill, you can budget, cancel subscriptions, and negotiate bills to cut monthly expenses.
- Make movies and books digital. Consider going digital if you’re a big reader or movie fan. As a result, you’ll save space in your home and find what you’re looking for more easily. It’s also easier to travel with these digital items.
Minimalism emphasizes experiences over material possessions. Some people value memories made during trips more than having the latest gadget. As a general rule, spend wisely based on where you stand.
In addition to avoiding checked baggage fees, packing light has a few other benefits. To begin with, packing light simplifies getting around. You can navigate public transit more easily with a lighter suitcase or backpack, rather than paying for a taxi to lug your stuff around.
What does it take to pack light?
Well, here’s a tip from my globe-trotting grandparents. Wear clothes that you can easily wash in the bathroom sink. Also, choose items that dry quickly, as well as clothes that can be mixed and matched.
You should also pack basics that are versatile enough to pair with any outfit. By doing this, you won’t have to carry four pairs of shoes, for example.
There’s also one more perk. If you pack light, you won’t be tempted to buy souvenirs — because your suitcase or backpack will have limited space.
Take advantage of a package deal.
By booking vacation packages instead of flights and hotels separately, you can save a lot of money. In addition, packages simplify your travel planning overall, saving you time. Booking directly through airlines can often be more cost-effective than using travel sites like Expedia or Kayak. Many airlines now offer travel packages of their own.
If you’re looking for deals, sites such as American Airlines’ AAVacations.com can be a great place to start.
Don’t waste your time on unnecessary details.
It may be tempting to fly low-cost. However, consider if you really need priority boarding, extra legroom, or seat selection, because these can result in significant price increases. In addition, you may have to forego the in-room massage because hotel add-ons can add up.
At the same time, you can cover some additional travel frills by setting aside ‘fun money’ from alternative sources. Earning cash back on online purchases through sites like Rakuten, for example, can help to build up a vacation fund.
Consider taking a mini-vacation instead.
You can make your summer travel into a mini-vacation if a big vacation is out of the question this year.
Consider spending a four-day weekend near you rather than spending two weeks traveling around Europe. You could also go camping or plan a visit with a friend or family member. For example, my sister leaves near the beach. So, I can crash with her and still get a little beach time in.
As a result, you’ll be able to escape and make travel memories while remaining within your budget. In addition, you can travel to Europe off-season with the money you saved.
Traveling off-season is generally cheaper, as prices and demand are lower.
But, how do we determine peak season from off-season? There are many factors to consider, including where you’re going, when you’re going, and why you’re going.
As an example, during the summer the Jersey Shore and Outer Banks are at their peak. Since people go skiing in the Poconos in the winter, that would be the peak season.
In addition, it depends on if you’re traveling during holidays, including holidays back home as well as those abroad. Aside from the hemisphere, you’ll visit, the weather plays a big part in your decision.
It is therefore likely that travelers to Europe will find cheaper airfare, hotels, and vacation packages during the winter. In contrast, South America’s winter is between June and August, when prices drop for travel there. Similarly, in Australia and South Africa, the winter season starts in June and the summer season begins in December.
Besides saving money, there are fewer crowds. In other words, booking hotel rooms or visiting museums will be easier and more flexible.
Think convenience, not cost.
This might sound counterproductive. But, I’ve learned this from my travels.
Suppose you’re planning a trip to Chicago. As a first-time visitor, you’re probably looking forward to seeing the sights surrounding the Magnificent Mile. Of course, hotels aren’t cheap in this area. As a result, you choose to stay outside the city in a suburb, such as Perioa.
Yes, you may save a lot on lodging. However, you should also consider the time and money it will take to run you back and forth. Maybe it’s just more convenient to stay in the city — even if it costs a little more.
Flights are no different. Denver is only about six hours away from Salt Lake City. In addition to the six-hour drive, which means adding another day or two to your vacation, you’ll have to pay for gas as well. Before you leave or return, you may also need to get a room depending on the time of the fight.
In some cases, convenience justifies the price.
Automate your travel savings.
Whenever you receive a paycheck, set up an automatic transfer of funds to a savings account to save for your vacation.
It is possible to open a savings account specifically for vacations. Capital One 360 offers the ability to create multiple savings accounts, for example. Accounts can even be named and goals can be set. Keeping yourself motivated might be as simple as naming your vacation-specific account, such as “My Argentina Getaway”.
It is also possible to save with Ally Bank, an online savings account offering a higher interest rate than most savings accounts. You could also use SmartyPig, a fee-free, FDIC-insured online savings account held by BBVA Compass.
What’s the key? Make sure a portion of your pay is automatically transferred to your vacation fund every time you get paid. Start saving now for your vacation since going into debt may not be worth it. And, don’t forget to regularly check your accounts to ensure that your bills are being paid.
Is it necessary to be rich to travel the world?
Everyone can travel in some form. In fact, a new culture can be experienced without traveling far. The best way to find affordable flights is to be flexible, search on new websites like Skypicker and Fareness, or plan ahead. For domestic flights, book 57 days in advance, for international flights, 117 days in advance. It’s also possible to make traveling the world your 9-to-5 job.
What are the advantages of traveling instead of buying stuff?
Vacations with your family can have a lasting impact on your child’s happiness, according to research.
Travel also allows you to engage in healthy activities, such as yoga or walking, that promote physical health. Traveling more and working less is possible by spending your money on travel rather than things. Compared to buying things, it will improve your lifestyle and rejuvenate you.
What is the best way to save for your dream vacation?
The first step is to determine the cost of your trip. To do this, you need to decide where you’d like to travel, and how long you’d like to travel.
The next step is to get specific once you’ve defined your idea.
- What it will cost you to fly there and back (plus travel insurance!)
- Accommodation costs
- Food and beverage budget
- The cost of any activities and sight-seeing trips you wish to take while you are there
- Your travel emergency fund amount
It isn’t possible to get an exact number, but it will give you a ballpark figure. You should always assume you’ll spend more than expected in all of these categories to give yourself an extra buffer.
In addition, automate a monthly deposit into a dedicated savings account until you reach your travel goals.
Is it a good idea to pay for a vacation with a credit card?
If you pay your bill with credit upfront when you don’t have the money to cover it immediately, you could face several repercussions:
- The cost could be high. The average APR for all cards in the U.S. News database is 15.56% to 22.87%. It is thus possible to accrue serious interest charges if vacation expenses are rolled over for even a few months.
- Your credit could be damaged. Credit utilization should be as low as possible. Your credit scores might suffer if you use your card for a big getaway and the costs consume more than 30% of your available credit.
- Added financial stress. Vacations are all about relaxing. It’s possible to become stressed out and depressed if your trip results in credit card debt you won’t be able to repay.
You should, however, use a credit card if you already have the funds set aside for the trip – and pay off the balance immediately.
The main reason is that you can earn points, miles, or cash back if you use a credit card to pay for today’s vacation. Additionally, by booking your trip with your credit card, you might be able to get some valuable travel protections. Using your credit card to book your flight and hotel online is easy, convenient, and easy to carry with you after you arrive at your destination.