Traveling abroad can sometimes feel like an unattainable dream for individuals without much disposable income. Plane tickets, hotel rooms, and the like can seem like they’d rack up a bill big enough to make you go broke. Your trepidation is understandable but if you are truly determined to become a world traveler, you don’t have to wait until you are rolling in the dough to do so.
It all comes down to prioritizing travel in your budget and making the necessary sacrifices to save money for the purpose of travel. There are also several strategies you can use in your travel that’ll make costs more affordable overall by simply avoiding certain common money mistakes. It is possible for you to do the travel you want to do regardless of your current income.
How to Prioritize Saving for Budget Travel
Put Travel into your Budget
Your priorities show up clearly in your finances. Where your priorities are, there will your spending be as well. So, if you want to make travel a priority, then you need to put travel saving as a line item in your monthly budget. If your travel saving is up there with your rent and your gym membership and your grocery expenses, then you will be sure to pay it.
Open a Travel Savings Account
Open a new savings account that you can designate just for your travel savings. This will create a separate fund that you will be less likely to dip into for a shopping spree. Start sending a small amount of money there every paycheck you receive and then you can increase it over time.
Treat It like a Bill
Making something feel like a personal priority is different than making something a true financial priority. Instead of thinking of travel savings like a random thing you want to save up to buy, think of it as a recurring bill that you must pay. If you think about transferring that chunk of cash to your travel fund like a credit card payment, your phone bill, or your car payment, then you will not miss a month.
Try Reverse Budgeting
You can also try something called “reverse budgeting” where you save what you don’t spend instead of saving so you don’t spend. So, every time you avoid getting that coffee by making yourself coffee at home, you can “spend” that five dollars by sending it to your travel fund. If you drive past your favorite restaurant and instead of stopping, you go make yourself dinner at home then send $25 over to your travel fund!
Common Mistakes to Avoid to Travel on a Budget
1. Forgetting to tell your bank that you’re traveling.
Don’t let this important detail slip your mind before you board the plane. If you use your debit or credit card abroad without warning your bank, then they are likely to freeze your card to prevent fraud. Getting your card shut down and spending hours on the phone with your bank would not be a fun way to spend your first day abroad.
2. Overlooking bank and ATM fees.
Does your bank charge international fees? Will there be ATM withdrawal fees? Keep up to date with your banks charges and look into other cards that might save you money. You can also look into which ATMs work with your bank abroad and have the most affordable prices for drawing out cash.
3. Failing to plan for getting from the airport to your lodging.
This might seem like a minor mistake but those taxi fares from the airport to your hotel or hostel can be killer. You can’t be sure that they will have fair pricing plus you don’t know how far the ride is. Sometimes you just grab a taxi because it seems like the only way to get to where you need to be. But if you do a little research and planning beforehand, you could end up finding some really cheap alternatives like shuttles or trains.
4. Assuming tipping practices.
Every country is so different when it comes to tipping practices and knowing this beforehand can save you a lot of money in the long run. Many countries pay their servers much more than the United States do so tipping isn’t always required or not nearly as much as the 20% that has become standard in the US. Plus, it is a good idea to keep in mind that some places include the tip in the bill, so look for that.
5. Not pricing out deals for your phone.
Will you be using an international roaming plan? Sometimes this is the best route but for some countries, you can save a fair amount of money by simply buying a temporary sim card. Do a little bit of research before you go to see what your provider’s roaming charges are and if they have any affordable international add-ons. In addition to that, look into the country you are visiting and see what their typical pre-pay deals are.
6. Refusing to comparison shop for flights.
If you are looking to save money, never buy the first flight you find. There are so many budget airlines out there now in addition to great tips and tricks to find cheaper tickets for nicer airlines. You can use comparison shopping sites like Kayak or Priceline to find the cheapest flights and the cheapest travel dates. Flights on weekends will always be more expensive so try to find flights on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. You can also save tons of money if you are willing to travel during off-season instead of typical travel months. There is nothing wrong with a mid-winter vacation!
7. Assuming you need a luxury hotel to have a good time.
It is not always necessary to stay at a high-end hotel to really enjoy your travel destination. You can cut your trip price in three if you’re willing to stay at a hostel. If you feel like you couldn’t handle sharing a room with other people, then look into AirBnb. You’d be surprised how much cheaper it is to get an apartment to yourself rather than a fancy hotel room in certain countries. When you are traveling on a budget, it’s all about thinking out of the box and being willing to go out of your comfort zone so you can really enjoy everything that new country has to offer.