We hear time and time again to spend money on experiences rather than things; experiences make us happier and last a lifetime. But between all the bills and necessities, it can often seem that we don’t even have the luxury to spend on things, let alone experiences, especially when the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average cost of a trip to be $1,145 per person. But just because you can’t pay for that trip now doesn’t mean you can’t make your trip happen.
By using the right tools and learning a few tricks, you can start saving your way to making your dream vacation a reality.
Set a goal
Not all vacation costs are created equal. By planning out where you want to go, how you’ll need to get there, where you want to stay, and creating a realistic budget of exactly how much your vacation will cost, you can more effectively map out the right steps to make sure you reach your goal. Remember, it’s just as important to ask yourself what kind of experience you’re looking for when you travel. Would you prefer to stay in a hotel or would AirBnB work for you? Is public transit available to/from the airport or would you prefer not to deal with the hassle? Also make sure you include all expenses, like your breakfast and museum tickets, not just the necessary ones, when trying to come up with a realistic budget for your trip.
Start by cutting the fat
Take an honest look at your daily expenses and quickly select the things you can give up without too much trouble. Do you need your daily Starbucks or do you mind waking up a few minutes earlier to prepare your own brew? How about packing your lunch instead of going out? By just making your own coffee and bringing your own lunch, MoneyCrashers
estimates you can save anywhere from $1,380 – $3,300 annually! That’s the cost of a vacation! But some other fatty expenses could be even sneakier – if you are focused on just watching certain shows or movies, could you lower your TV bill by switching to streaming
? When was the last time you actually went to the gym? Assess your everyday habits so you can start cutting out the things you don’t even use.
Use apps that round up debit card purchases
Download apps that help you save a tiny bit at a time without even noticing it left your checking account. Acorns
connects to your bank account and invests the spare change from daily purchases into a diversified portfolio. When you have enough money for your trip, you can withdraw it without paying a fee. There’s also Digit
, which transfers a small amount of money from your checking to savings account every few days (usually $5 to $50, depending on what the app determines you can afford).
Choose a credit card with travel rewards
Make everyday purchases worth your while by using credit cards with travel perks. Many cards have loads of sign-up points, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred
credit card, which gives new customers 50,000 bonus points after they spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. That equals $625 in travel rewards including airline miles and hotel stays. The Starwood Preferred Guest
from American Express offers 25,000 introductory points in exchange for $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. You can earn free nights at Starwood brand hotels, turn Starpoints into airline miles or get extra benefits such as discounts to concerts and sporting events.
Automatic transfers to a new account
Save money effortlessly by setting up an automatic transfer – that way, you don’t have to worry about making sure you allocate enough money to your savings since you’ll be doing it automatically. Even better, set up a separate account from your normal savings that is reserved exclusively for your trip. It will help guarantee that the money you transfer into that account is strictly off-limits. Even better yet, set up that savings account with a bank delivering a great rate to make sure you get the most bang for your travel buck. Check out NerdWallet’s
guide on great high yield savings accounts.
Clear your cookies
Some travel websites plant cookies on your computer that track your behavior and searches, which increase the ticket price when you come back later. To avoid the price increase, search the same result in a new browser, or if you don’t have multiple browsers, clear your cookies.
Check out travel sites
If you aren’t dead-set on a location, check out discount sites like Kayak
. Not only can you look up flight and hotel rates, but you can also find some great deals on vacation packages that can save you a lot of time and money. Hopper
is also a great tool that helps you map out when you should fly by laying out a calendar of when fares are expected to dip by location.
Set up a side hustle
Have you cut down on all that you can and yet you still can’t figure out how to reach your goal? Consider taking up a side gig. Devoting a few hours a week to odd-jobs is a great way to help you reach your goal. There are plenty of sites that you can sign up for to work either remotely or in person. Have an internet connection and prefer to work from home? Check out sites like FancyHands
where you can earn extra income on a task-by-task basis as a virtual assistant, or UpWork
for freelancing opportunities, including coding, design, customer service and others. There are also sites like Care.com
where you can find jobs in your neighborhood like dog-walking, babysitting, tutoring, cleaning, and home repairs.
Make-up your money on vacation
Now that the vacation is booked and you are on your way, that doesn’t mean you can’t start recouping some of the expenses from the trip. Just as there were easy ways to save money for your trip, there are equally easy ways of making up that money while traveling. You know you can rent out your home on AirBnB, but did you know you could also rent out your car? Instead of paying for expensive airport parking, allow other travelers to rent your car for a better price. Check out FlightCar
for more information. You can also start using your camera phone for more than just selfies. With the free stock photo app FOAP
, you can upload the pictures you take from your travels and sell them for $5 each, with an unlimited number of resells.
Planning a vacation soon? Tell us where you are off to and how you are saving to get there!