About a month ago one of my friends asked me “how do you manage to travel so much?” At the time I didn’t really know how to answer except to say that traveling is important to me. Often I wish I could visit more locations, but, in all honesty, I do a lot of touring around.
Last year we visited Cape Cod, California, Washington DC, New York’s Finger Lakes (about 3 times), Boston, Rhode Island, and other random destinations. This year we already have trips planned for Italy and Mexico! Our destinations are getting a little more exotic now that we have a bit more income, but we’ve always managed to make travel happen.
Manage your budget
By far the best way to travel (or accomplish any money-centric goals) is to have a good budget. The assumption here is that you can adjust your income and expenses to at least break even every month. Check out my tips for creating a monthly budget and then pop back over here. By setting up a workable budget, you can save every month for vacations. That way you don’t need to cough up all of the cash at once, but can spread out the expenses over time. Ultimately you have to do what’s best for you and your budget might limit how extravagant your trips are. You might need to stick to New York City instead of Milan.
Make it a priority
This may seem obvious, but it’s something I learned a few years ago. Absolutely everyone has at least one category of items that they spend money on. Sometimes it’s clothes, or eating out, or fancy cars. And that’s fine. But most people can’t have it all. Something has got to give in order to pay for what you want.
Our wedding and honeymoon is the perfect example of this. One of the reasons we are having a more low-key and less expensive wedding is so that we have money to go on an amazing Italian honeymoon. It can be tough to keep the wedding on budget while seeing other people with more glamorous events, but I’m sure going to love our 2 weeks in Italy.
A lot of travel can be had if you just think creatively about booking. This past year we were tighter on cash so we mostly traveled to places we could drive to. That saved us loads of money on flights.
I also book lodging that’s as cheap as I can find. I love Hotwire, a service where you “blindly” book hotels, based upon neighborhood, and you find out the specific location after you’ve paid. We also love Airbnb, which is a service that hooks you up with individuals looking to rent their house, apartment, or rooms. Our upcoming Mexico trip was booked entirely based upon an Airbnb listing of this amazing little house with its own kitchen, patio, and private pool. And it’s under $100 a night! For a private yard with it’s own pool! This place is also so inexpensive because it’s outside of the top tourist towns in Mexico. I’m sure the same house in a popular destination like Key West or Hawaii would be a lot more money. We opted to book a little bit off the beaten path to get an amazing place in an interesting town after we found an equally amazing airfare deal.
There’s a lot of choice beyond the traditional hotel route if you do some creative searching and consider new and different destinations.
Find those deals
There are so many resources online for getting cheap travel alerts. I recently started following a lot of travel blogs, especially those aimed at using airline points systems. I’m still wrapping my head around that aspect, but sites like Travelzoo and FlyerTalk are perfect spots for scoping out good deals. I also have signed up for low fare flight alerts on Airfare Watch Dog, which can be configured specifically for your home airport. Just keep your eyes peeled and be ready to jump on awesome offers.
Have a plan and have fun!
I find it’s easiest to save for travel when I have a destination in mind. This is a useful motivation tool and can help you figure out how much you need to save. Even though this year is pretty busy with getting married and two big trips, I’m already thinking of another amazing vacation (Bali, anyone?). Since it probably won’t happen for another 10+ months, we have time to watch for cheap airfare, do some research, and save up the necessary funds.
Hopefully one day I’ll be even more of a globe trotter, but for now I’m just living my dream one destination at a time.