Learning to save for a trip can be an exciting and exhilarating process. Not only will it get you one step closer to your dream vacation, but it will also help you create life-changing savings habits.
While saving money for a trip during a global pandemic may seem a little weird, it actually has quite a few benefits. We teach you how to manage your money well so that you can enjoy the trip of your life in the (hopefully) not too distant future.
How to save for the vacation of your dreams
First things first: you have to figure out how much the trip is going to cost you. That translates into deciding where you want to travel and for how long. When you have it clear, it is time to specify. That is, you need to prepare an estimate of the following expenses:
- How much is the ticket (round trip) and travel insurance;
- the price of the accommodation;
- the budget that you will allocate to food and drink;
- how much do the activities and tourist excursions you want to do there cost;
- the amount you want to save to have an emergency fund during the trip.
It is clear that you are not going to calculate an exact amount, but you can get an approximate idea to be able to orient yourself. In general, it is best to give yourself a margin and assume that you are going to spend a little more than you anticipated in all of these categories.
How much to save for a trip to Europe
If you are planning a trip to a European country, you should generally anticipate spending approximately €1,500 per month. Needless to say, this amount will vary greatly depending on the country. A one-week trip to Amsterdam for two people costs an average of €1,800, yet a one-week trip to Poland for two people costs about €800 (flights not included).
But remember that, when doing the calculations, it is better to go too far than to fall short. The best treatment for post-vacation sickness is to go home with a little money to spare, so you can start saving for your next trip.
How to prepare a budget for your trip
Now that you know how much money you need for your trip, it’s time to create a budget. Although, a priori, it may seem like a chore, we assure you that it will be rewarding. Evaluating your budget and adapting it to your needs will give you a sense of financial independence that is not bad in these uncertain times.
1. Track your spending
To start managing yourself, you have to know where your money is going each month. That is, start keeping track of each and every one of your expenses. To do this, you will have to write down all your income and compare it with all your expenses during a period of 30 days. You can do this manually by looking at your bank statements and entering the figures into a spreadsheet. Or, if it seems too laborious, you can consider using an expense control app.
2. Divide your expenses
For this next step, you will need to divide your expenses into two categories: fixed and variable. Fixed expenses include all those that are more difficult to change; that is, the rent, the credit installments and the consumption invoices. However, variable expenses are those that offer more room for adjustment; therefore this category includes subscription to services (eg Netflix, Spotify, etc.), non-essential purchases at the supermarket and clothing.
3. Cut your variable expenses
Since your variable expenses are non-essential, this is the easiest category to cut. There are several things you can do about it; First of all, you can change the way you shop at the supermarket to save a lot of money on your monthly food budget. For example, you can create weekly meal plans to anticipate in advance what you are going to spend on food, buy food in large quantities and not go shopping on an empty stomach.
The second thing is to cancel subscriptions to services you don’t use, switch to a cheaper mobile rate and get used to buying second-hand items. If you feel like challenging yourself, try picking a day of the week where you commit to not spending anything (other than your fixed expenses). Although each of these cuts may seem insignificant, together they make a difference.
4. Use a special savings account
When you start to stop spending a little money each month, the best thing you can do is deposit it in a special savings account. By separating your savings from your checking account, you make sure you don’t devour your savings without rhyme or reason, making it easier for you to manage yourself.
But there is another even better tip to boost your savings: schedule a monthly transfer to your savings account. When you know how much money you want to set aside each month, set up an automatic monthly transfer that sends this amount to your savings account without you having to constantly remind yourself.
5. Don’t lose sight of your savings goals
At the end of each month, it is important to evaluate whether it has been easy or difficult to meet your savings goals. If you think you’re having a hard time reaching them, you may need to reduce the amount you save each month or identify other areas of potential savings.
However, if you see that you are saving more than expected, adapt your budget to adjust it to this circumstance and save even more. The trick is to set a savings goal that is difficult enough to motivate you to manage wisely, but easy enough that it doesn’t seem impossible and you end up throwing in the towel.
6. Stay motivated
One of the biggest benefits of learning to save for a trip is having a challenging and motivating goal to pursue. While it’s also important to save for an emergency fund or a pension plan, these goals are certainly far less inspiring.
Therefore, you will find it useful to decorate your house with visual stimuli that help you stay on track. For example, you can stick a photo of your vacation destination next to your computer, or you can use it as wallpaper on your phone. When you are about to be tempted to deviate from your savings goals, you can use these images to visualize your purpose.
How to save for a trip in 4 months
So far, we’ve gone over a few general travel savings tips. But if you have a limited time to save before packing your bags, we also have some very useful advice. In addition to saving on your variable expenses, identifying fixed expenses that you can cut can save you a significant amount of money (in less time).
7. Discount on the rent of your alquiler
For most people, the biggest fixed expense is rent, and while it’s not entirely easy, you have a few options for saving on this. The easiest is to look for roommates so that you can divide the rental income into two, or even three. If you already share a room, you can move to a smaller room, since they are usually cheaper than a large room. If you can, there is also the possibility of living with your parents again. It’s not usually anyone’s first choice, but you’ll probably end up paying a lot less rent (or even nothing at all).
8. Save on your consumption bills
Finding ways to cut utility bills each month will also add greatly to your savings. Here are some tips to put it into practice:
- Identify appliances that are not energy efficient and replace them. You can also sell them and exchange them for efficient second-hand alternatives.
- Try to contract with the electricity and gas companies with the best value for money. You will have to do a little market research, but the effort is worth it.
- Change the bulbs for LED lighting, which is energy efficient and, in the long run, you save on consumption.
9. Find a second job
If you really want to save as soon as possible, looking for a second job will go a long way in increasing your monthly savings. If you already have a 40 hour a week job, you can do the occasional shift in a pub, work as a freelancer or work in a restaurant on weekends. Although it may seem stressful, if you do it for only one season, you surely won’t end up burning yourself.
But remember that your mental health is always more important than sticking to your monthly savings goals. If you think working multiple jobs is going to affect your mental health, adjust your savings goals, not your lifestyle.
How to save fast for a trip
If you want more tips to save money quickly for your next trip, we have one last alternative to consider. This tip doesn’t require you to save as much before you leave, so you’ll be able to meet your savings goals faster, but it also requires that your definition of a dream vacation be more flexible.
10. Take work with you
While this doesn’t work for short trips, if you plan to be gone for a month or more, you might consider taking your work with you. More and more people are working remotely and today it is not always necessary to work from the same place, which opens up many more possibilities when traveling.
If you decide to work remotely over the holidays, you won’t have to save a ton of money before you go. Also, if you choose a particularly cheap destination, you may even save more money than if you stayed at home. But remember to maintain a balance between personal and professional life when you’re on the road. For example, you can take a few days off during your trip to make the most of your stay, or perhaps ask for a leave of absence if you can afford it.