Vacations and trips, how we all love them! Unfortunately, our pocketbooks are rarely accommodating. How, then, do we make sure to make fun, adventure, and new experiences a regular part of our lives without going over budget?
My husband & I have family out of state and overseas, which moves traveling from the “want” category to “need”. We believe we need to make sure we are regularly spending time with our family, even when that means a trip across the world. Here are a few key elements we have added into our budgeting life to make sure we can afford trips to not only see family, but also to trips to celebrate our anniversary, and even go on small little getaways:
- Limit eating out. We live in a culture that is all about eating out, but taking a moment to add up those bills quickly proves that a little restraint in this department can really aid in helping to save up cash for other experiences. We enjoy eating out, but we give ourselves a number of times we will eat out per month (which is a maximum, not a number we aim for- birthdays and business lunches not included, as we budget for those type of things separately). Just as in with any healthy lifestyle choice, this isn’t about deprivation; this is about setting limits on a fun activity to create money for more fun activities.
- Limit shopping. We rarely buy things needlessly. Does that mean we never shop for fun? No, not at all. However, our “fun” shopping comes out of another budgeted category (which I go into more detail about in this post), and we don’t spend above that amount, meaning fun shopping does not touch potential trip money, because it is already designated as fun shopping money.
- Set a trip calendar close to a year in advance. We regularly plan all the trips we would like to take at the beginning of every year. We go in depth, as if the sky is the limit, writing down every trip we would actually like to take within the year, then prioritize. A good half of our trips don’t make the cut, but we always make sure a trip to see each side of the family, a trip for us (usually for our anniversary), and a weekend trip remain. Having trips on the calendar well in advance allows for time to save for them! I highly recommend having a trip budget as one of your budget categories (mentioned more here) if you travel even as close to as much as we do, but time is also crucial in making sure the finances are prepared for such trips.
- Shop for deals. We are all about using our airline miles for hotel rooms, shopping on Expedia, and looking for the cheapest + best-reviewed rooms. I’m big about knowing where I am staying in advance, so I’m not a big fan of sites like Hotwire, but many are, so I recommend considering that, as well. When looking at activities to do on your trip, check out the reviews on a site like TripAdvisor- many will mention available coupons! Many museums have certain days of the month with discounted days, and some banks, like Bank of America, offer free admission to select museums on certain weekends. We’ve planned our trips, in the past, to make sure we hit as many of these dates as possible for maximum savings.
Trips and vacations are fun, and we really see the value in sharing experiences and not just buying things. We will splurge for a fancy meal for a special occasion, but our “normal” living is very budgeted to make room in our finances for special times. Implementing these four things into our lives have helped us go on more than one trip, and I hope they will help you, too!