How to Cross Off Your Travel Bucket List on a Budget
What will you cross off the bucket list this year? Skiing bowls at Breckenridge? Sipping cocktails in Aruba? 2012 can be the year you take your dream trip, if you play your cards right. But you need to commit RIGHT NOW.
Your Days are Numbered:
The New Year marks a fresh start for many things, including vacation days. Think ahead on your 2012 calendar. How many days off do you need to factor for weddings, Gammy’s 90th birthday, or your little bro’s graduation? How many do you have left? Don’t scatter those days over the year; cash them all in at once to do something really memorable!
Maximize vacation time while minimizing missed work. Have 5 days off? Take a 9 day trip by leaving late Friday night and returning the following Sunday night. Book trips near holidays when coworkers will also be out of town (Fri-Wed preceding Thanksgiving; December 27-January 3). Trips taken at the end of the year also allow more time to save and to plan.
Fly Me to the Moon:
All you need is a plane ticket. Book your plane ticket, and the rest will follow. Buying a ticket means you are committed. It means you can get excited. It means that the trip is HAPPENING. When are flights the cheapest? Way in advance or at the last minute. Book your flight 9 months ahead of time. Sure it would be nice to have the whole trip saved for by the time you book, but when was the last time that happened? Save for your flight and as soon as you have the money, buy it! If you put it off any longer, you will likely take the trip next Never. You will work the rest out by the time the trip arrives.
Nickel and Dimed:
Evaluate every purchase this year in light of your upcoming trip. Where can you cut corners? It doesn’t have to hurt. Eat out less, pack your lunches, wait until movies arrive at Redbox, etc. Surprisingly, your habits add up over a 9 month period! While saving to go to Peru (my ticket already purchased), I put a sticker on my debit card that said ‘Do you really need this?’. It reminded me every time I saw it to save (and don’t worry, you get over the crazy looks from cashiers!).
Fuel the Fire:
Use your upcoming trip to motivate keeping your other New Year’s resolutions. Give up smoking, drinking, Starbucks? Calculate your average annual spending on a negative habit and allot the money to your trip funds. One-two punch!
If You’re Happy and You Know It:
Birthdays, anniversaries, and all other days preceded by ‘Happy’ are opportunities to snag key items for the trip (if your beloved/generous family and friends request suggestions). Receive money? Put it directly in the trip fund.
Where will you go this year? What steps will you take to make it happen? Comment below!