The concept of YOLO, the short form of the expression “You live only once,” has motivated some people to travel and see the world. There’s also FOMO, or fear of missing out, which one tends to feel when looking at people’s curated posts of beach trips, staycations, and daring adventures. For whatever reasons compelling you to go out and explore when things gain a bit of normalcy, one thing is clear: you need money.
From accommodation to the littlest of things, doing the math is part of stress-free travel. It’s a goal not to think a lot about the cost of an upcoming trip and focus on the experience. So how about preparing your finances for your travels? Here are practical ways to support your wanderlust and plan your next dream escape.
Set Up a Travel Fund
List down the places you intend to visit, and build a travel fund from there. You can start with your spare change, strategically putting in money from your work/business as you go. It can be easy to reach your goal if you are working toward a specific amount. Consider the cost of living, plus inflation, in each country you plan to visit.
Traditional and creative places to store your travel money:
- A savings account with a debit card that you can use for local and international destinations
- A mason jar or a plain envelope for your coins and bills
- A couple of investment vehicles (not ideal for trips in the short term, given that investment has a longer time horizon to achieve gains, if any)
Sell What You Have
Some people have sold their worldly possessions to see the world. You probably need not do that. Instead, think of entrepreneurship to help pay for your travel endeavors.
What does it take to launch an online shop?
- Products: they can be what you already own, readymade, or products of your creativity, such as clothes, handicrafts, paintings, photographs, and mementos from your trips.
- Place to sell your products: online marketplaces come with a massive consumer base but with tougher competition and stricter rules for sellers. You can choose to be independent and build a store based on your budget. Take advantage of any free trial to get a feel of selling online.
- Presence: how do you attract customers to visit your shop? First, they get to know who you are. Social media is a great place to start.
Take Advantage of Your Credit Card
Cash is king, but having a credit card takes the hassle of paying for the hotel and airfare. Also, you may be able to earn points and miles when you spend through credit cards.
Credit cards come with a caveat to spend or incur debt responsibly. Use it to eliminate fees from withdrawing money from the ATM or converting to local currency, but not to shop like crazy. Also, crunch the numbers when it comes to fees. Lastly, pay off the balance fast.
Build, Improve Your Credit Score
It takes diligence, consistency, and discipline to build your credit. And if you want to qualify for better loan terms to finance a car, house, or vacation, you have to work on improving your credit score.
With a higher credit score, you may be able to take out a personal loan with a low-interest rate or a credit card with a sizable sign-up bonus or travel credit. By way of reminder, borrow what you can afford to pay.
Set Aside, Not Spend, Extra Money Outright
Allot a portion of your bonuses, incentives, and commissions to your travel fund. The same goes for unexpected money, like winning in the lottery or getting an inheritance from a distant relative. It can be tempting, but refrain from spending your windfall on an extravagant vacation and the finer things in life. Many people have lost their entire fortune that way.
You can still grow the money and use the proceeds to fund your future vacations. If you are dealing with a sizable sum, consult with a lawyer, a tax advisor, or a financial planner.
Save Money during Your Vacation
Consider this as the sixth and last tip. While getaways are about relaxation and leisure, they don’t mean emptying your wallet. This is where research and knowledge about the place come into play.
- Look up flights and hotel rates months in advance. There’s conflicting anecdotal evidence on whether booking for flights is cheaper when browsing in private mode. But airfare will certainly cost you more when it’s near your departure date.
- Are you big on breakfast? Check which hotels offer them for free. If not, prepare to pay extra or shop at a supermarket.
- Avoid tourist traps. Taxi fares are expensive anywhere, so walk or use public transport whenever you can. Ask where the locals dine to sample authentic food. Shop with a list when buying souvenirs, ideally, far from touristy spots.
What budget-friendly travel tips do you swear by? Share them here.