It's winter right now and all you can do is daydream about that summer group tour to the beach. Relaxing in the sun, wearing flip flops, exploring a new city (without 15 layers of clothes). Right now, nothing seems more appealing. There's just one problem. You have that nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach. How are you going to pay for the most amazing group travel experience of your life? Money can be an awful drag. But that's why I'm here to help ease some of that stress with these tips on saving for your travel fund.
- Have a budget. This is applicable regardless of whether you're going on a trip or not. Without a budget, it is impossible keep track of where your money is going. If you don't have a budget already, now is the time to make one. Create a budget, plan where your money will be spent, and then keep track of how you do so. This is the first step toward any kind of financial security and success.
- Add a "travel savings" item to your budget. Once you have a budget, add a line item for travel! Figure out the total cost for your group tour then distribute that amount evenly over the months in between now and then. This is a simple, clean way to plan ahead so you're not stuck with a huge bill when the trip finally comes around.
- Dedicate all extra income to travel. Having a budget allows you to know if you have any extra expendable income. Expendable income is pretty great. You could use it to buy a designer pair of shoes, or to visit that new fancy restaurant in town. OR, if you're planning a group travel experience anytime in the future, dedicate all of your expendable income to travel.
- Cut a luxury from your budget. Maybe you love to get your morning mocha every day. Maybe you visit the movies every Friday night. Maybe you like to visit the local pub with your friends every Saturday. These are great things, but they can really put a strain on your budget. Consider eliminating these types of luxury expenses from now until the time of your trip. Then funnel all of the money you would have spent on these things towards your group tour. This can bulk up your travel fund faster than you may realize.
- Invest time in saving money through sales, discounts, and coupons. We all like the idea of saving money, but it takes time and effort to go through the grocery ads and check for coupons every week. Still, investing some time, even if it's only temporarily, can help you save money for your group travel experience.
- Use cash. Research has shown that if you pay with cash, you're less likely to overspend. After you've created your budget, try withdrawing some cash and earmarking it for different budget items like groceries, toiletries, restaurants, etc. When you shop, if you have to actually shell out the paper money, you'll be more aware of how much you're spending and how much you have left for the rest of the month.
- Be disciplined and resist impulse buying. This one can be hard. Saving money takes discipline. That means delaying gratification until a later date. It doesn't matter how great of a deal you found on a pair of boots, or how much you're craving the 20 junk food items you're tempted to put in your cart - if you can't learn the discipline of saying no, saving for the future will be extremely hard. Work on exercising some restraint and you'll find extra cash in your pocket to put towards your group tour.
- Take on side jobs. This one is a little more extreme, but if you know that no amount of trimming the budget and self-restraint will give you enough expendable income for your trip, consider getting a temporary part time job. Whether you actually apply at businesses or just take on babysitting and lawn mowing, don't be too proud to put in a little extra effort. Even if you end up being super busy before your trip, it will just make vacation that much sweeter.
Saving can be tough. But if you can keep your eye on the prize (an amazing group tour), it will be much easier to successfully execute all of these tips. If you have to, print out pictures of your destination and put them in your wallet or on your nightstand to remind yourself of the end goal. When you're able to have an awesome group travel experience without stressing about your budget, it will be worth it.