Look there have definitely been times when my bank account has given me that response, but traveling requires creating a money goal and sticking to it. I can’t afford to travel on a last minute whim UNLESS I have already been setting money aside as a general traveling money goal. Because traveling has become a thing I enjoy in my late twenties, I always include a travel line in my monthly budget (or as I call it wealth management because the word budget makes me thing of money in a negative way).
I’ve written before about the wonders of using a spreadsheet and other visuals to keep track of your expenses and money goals so I would recommend you check that post out! For me traveling is a category I take into account every month when I plan out my wealth management. This does not mean that I am traveling each month, and it also does not mean that I am setting aside the same amount each month.
The point of budgeting is to be flexible based on the needs you are facing, which for me means that sometimes I may not put much aside into my travel money goal because I have other priorities for that month. However, there is always something no matter how small that I have in that goal because it is something that I enjoy doing.
In addition to actively creating a money traveling goal, I recognize that my ability to travel is a privilege as well. I know that I do not live paycheck to paycheck. I used to, and during those days traveling was definitely not on my radar because I wasn’t sure how to do it. I am financially stable, even though sometimes I don’t feel like it. I also acknowledge that the only responsibilities I have are to myself and my two dogs, which means that I essentially only have to financially take care of myself (housing, etc.). I am certain that if I had children, my approach to saving for traveling would change and that is a challenge I may someday have to figure out.
Budgeting is about learning how to prioritize whatever is in your life at the moment.
I’m planning on writing a future post about executive functioning and budgeting, as it is hard to budget if we don’t first work on our executive functioning skills. Prioritizing is an executive functioning skill.
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Egypt (dream trip since I was a child). I didn’t decide on this trip until early March, and I was supposed to take the trip in mid May. I had some money already in my general traveling goal. As I mentioned before, I actively work on this goal each month because it is a priority I have made for myself. However, the amount I had already been setting aside wouldn’t be enough. I essentially had two months to work on this money goal before the trip. I saved up the following toward that money goal:
March – $480
April – $545
+Amount I already had in my general traveling goal – $515
Total in this money goal – $1,540
That meant that $1,540 was my working budget for all of my Egypt expenses. This takes into account flights, lodging, travel size items and spending money while in Egypt.
How did I get this money?
- Proactively setting money aside each month for travel, even if I didn’t know any specifics yet.
- Cutting back on expenses during the months of March and April by doing small things, such as:
- “Hay comida en casa” which translates to eating at home
- Buying groceries the week of needing them. This helped me in terms of not tossing out as much that ends up spoiling because I somehow forget I won’t eat everything right away.
- Driving less, which meant I wasn’t spending as much on gas.
- Going out less.
- Buying only things I really needed — no splurge purchases!
A key thing to take into account is to also be flexible even when you have your money goal set. In my case, I had to dip into my travel money goal amount for a work trip I had in late April. While some of the basics were covered by my job for this work trip, I had to cover a few other expenses myself with the possibility of not getting reimbursed for these expenses as I work for a non-profit. This meant my initial $1,540 went down, but that was OK because I re-calculated what I had to work with toward Egypt.
As with anything, if something is a priority that you want to save for, then you create a money goal and work towards it! Traveling is a priority for me, but as life comes and goes, that may change and I may find myself creating a money goal for something else that becomes important to me as a person.
If you want more tips on how to be cost effective when planning a trip, read my other post: Be Money Smart When You Travel. In the future, I plan on having specific posts that break down what trips to different places cost. Oftentimes I am googling like a madwoman trying to figure out how much money to save or take with me to certain destinations, so I figured I can’t be the only one that wishes more people would outline their expenses when they went on trips. I’m trying to look out for anyone who wants to be money smart when traveling!