Resolved to do anything that sparks enthusiasm in my heart

How to Cross Off Your Travel Bucket List on a Budget

Making friends with elephants in South Africa

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!

Supersize It:

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!

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8 responses

  1. Adam Suhy

    Great suggestions for just living life within your means.

    I’ve been capitalizing on credit card airline mile deals. I currently have 92k AA miles with another 75k coming soon. That will be more than enough to get an around the world ticket. The next problem is finding the time! I’m hoping for a graduation gift to myself in a few years.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    • Gah! How could I forget to include airline credit cards? Thank you for catching the major oversight Adam!

      I hear you about the time… in college there was plenty of time, but little money. Now there is more money (at least compared to college!), but less time. I am striving to find a lifestyle that will capitalize on both, before retirement! 😉

      January 10, 2012 at 9:07 AM

  2. Great post Natalie! I especially like the last point. Last year, since Jenn and I went on two big trips, we skipped a lot of the gift-giving to each other for most days preceded by “Happy.” It worked out, but I think your last point may be more “festive” (i.e. give trip-related gifts to each other). Anyway, this year, our big trip is to Hawaii! Let me know if you have any tips!

    January 10, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    • Thanks Roger! Dave and I actually don’t buy presents for each other (none that are surprises anyway!). We prefer to travel and purchase what we need for those trips as ‘gifts’. And as far as Hawaii goes,let me know what island you are thinking. I just planned a trip for students to Oahu, and David has family on the Big Island and knows it well.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:13 AM

  3. Great post Nat! Thanks for sharing! I loved this!

    January 11, 2012 at 9:49 AM

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