Budgeting for Travel

budgeting for travel

Good morning, friends! Happy Friday! I had a few requests to share how C and I save and budget for traveling. If you haven't noticed, we travel a lot.....we figured we better get as much in as possible now before we even think about having kids. Last year, we went on several big trips (Belize, London, Paris and Rome). This year, we are planning on doing tons of weekend trips all around the U.S. I'm hoping we can go somewhere each month of the year! So far we have three trips planned for January, February and March.....we'll see where we end up after that! 

Now, in regards to saving and budgeting..... I'm gonna be real here and tell you I am not an expert in that field. Like, at all. I might work at a financial institution, but I work in the marketing department, haha. When it comes to traveling, I handle most of the planning and C handles the finances and budgeting. He is a complete and total rockstar at that sort of thing (you should see the ridiculous spreadsheets he uses to track my credit card balances....hmm...). The following tips and insight into how we afford to travel are a combination of both our thoughts and talents! 

saving for a vacation
Beanie (on sale!) | Glasses | Cardigan (sold out), Similar Here and on sale! | Ugg Slippers, similar here | Carry-On Suitcase
1. Treat traveling as a bill and put a certain amount of money back each pay check. C and I have a joint savings account specifically for travel. We each put a big portion of our paychecks into it! When we go somewhere, we use that money to pay for all of our meals, lodging, plane tickets, activities, etc. That way, hardly anything comes out of pocket (unless I go shopping haha). If you can find a savings account with a high interest rate, that's even better (try this one at the credit union where I work). Additionally, I also put most of the money I make from Poshmark, blogging or odd jobs into my travel savings account. If I ever have cash or change, I put that straight to savings, too. Neither of us have a car payment, so we are able to save a lot pretty quickly.

2. Book flights when they're on sale. Southwest offers great prices regularly, but their sales are are even better! I am signed up for their emails, so whenever I see that there is a sale going on, I check to see if any of the destinations we want to visit are included. Scott's Cheap Flights is another great email to sign up for - they find insane prices for international flights! I'm talking like $300 round trip to Paris. Also, if you're willing to travel on weird days (like Wednesday instead of Friday), you can save quite a bit of cash. Try using the Southwest flexible date calendar to see what I mean! I've heard good things about Google Flights and Hopper, as well, but have not used them myself. 

3. Take advantage credit card reward programs. We use our Southwest credit cards religiously. We are lucky enough to have earned the Southwest Companion Pass for 2018! That means that everywhere Cole flies, I can go with him for FREE. Yeah, you read that right. It is basically buy one get one on plane tickets. AND, because we have so many points on our Southwest cards, almost all of our flights will be paid for solely with points (remember, since it is BOGO, my tickets cost zero points). It took a bit of time, research  and dedication to figure out how to get the companion pass and earn so many points without going into major credit card debt, but it can be done. My in-laws use the American Airlines card and have great success with that, as well. There are a lot of options out there, just do some research and figure out which card will work best for you.....just remember to pay it off each month 😉

4. Plan your meals in advance. We like to go big on vacation -  we enjoy trying local restaurants and not holding back when it comes to food and drinks. However, in order to do that, we have to balance out our meals.....both for our finances and our health, ha! Often times we eat a hotel breakfast or a cheap lunch in order to afford a big dinner. That being said, some of our favorite vacation meals have been from quick, cheap lunches (like a slice of NYC pizza). It is important to note, too, that the cost of food and alcohol varies greatly in different cities! Be sure to check out the restaurants you plan to eat at before you go so you can be prepared for the bill. 

5. Buy tickets to activities and sights in advance. This is pretty self explanatory! Not only are prices often cheaper online, but it also can allow you to skip the line! Knowing the price before you go will also help you pick and choose the activities that fit the budget and are worth the cost. 

6. Book your accommodations wisely! You don't have to stay at the fanciest hotel in town.....we like to enjoy our destinations and are rarely in our room anyway, so who cares if it is glamorous or not (unless you're going for a resort/spa feel, of course). Some folks prefer AirBNB or VRBO, others (like me) prefer hotels. If you go the hotel route, you can often find the cheapest rates closest to the date of travel if you're willing to wait that long and take the risk. Google Hotel Finder (through Google maps) shows you the cheapest nightly rates available for your chosen dates....often times these rates are much cheaper than what a hotel's website says! 

7. Remember to budget for the little things. Airport food, Uber rides, coffee, forgotten toiletries and souvenirs can add up quick! 

budgeting for vacation

I saved a quote on Pinterest once that says, 

"Travel while you're young and able. Don't worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money ever will be."

I couldn't agree more. I hope this little bit of insight into how we afford to travel was helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me! I'd love to help you experience the joys of travel, if I can. Basically, the more effort you put into planning and researching in advance, the better off you'll be. 

We're off this afternoon on our first trip of 2018! Any guesses where we're going? Stay tuned to my Instagram (@amandasok) and Insta-stories to find out. 

Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for reading! 

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