Earning and saving money for travel can seem like a daunting task. In fact, a lot of times, it is. The most important thing to bear in mind when deciding how to finance your travels is to keep the end in sight. Know that your saving, working, and sacrificing will all be worth it when you’re out there seeing the world!
There are a few options I usually abide by for deciding how to finance travel:
Option 1: Plan Then Save
If you’ve never saved up for a trip before, I’d suggest this option. Basically, this involves deciding where you want to go, researching it, finding out how much it will cost, then starting to save up for it, keeping yourself on a strict timeline and ensuring that you meet all of your financial goals. For example, if you hope to save $2,000 in half a year, you need to be saving at least $75 per week. That’s over $10 per day, which can add up very quickly. If you’re strict with yourself and you save incrementally, you’ll be able to determine how much money you can spend on a weekly basis.
Option 2: Save Then Plan
This option works best for people who are spontaneous travelers. Say you’ve saved $2,000 but have no idea where you want to go. You can then research your options and determine from there how much you want to spend on airfare, how long you want to stay in your destination, and use the amount you’ve saved as your budget threshold. This gives you the flexibility to build your trip within the conditions of the money you’ve already saved.
Option 3: Apply for Scholarships
The final option for financing your travels has nothing to do with saving money at all! In fact, you can basically consider this one free money. How do you get free money? You apply for it! There are a vast number of scholarships, fellowships, and work positions that exist solely to enable students to travel for free. The catch? Once you graduate, these opportunities vanish.
A couple of things to keep in mind:
- Airfare is not a steady cost. What a flight costs one day may be half the cost of the next day. Plan accordingly.
- You may want to leave an “emergency fund” of a couple hundred dollars in case something comes up during your travels, like having to see a doctor or having to replace your passport or buying an extra souvenir mug for your great-aunt who keeps asking you. You never know what will happen when you’re on the road.
- Exchange rates vary from place to place, so if you’re banking on exchanging at the airport or in a heavily tourist-populated area (which I wouldn’t recommend) then be sure to allocate some extra money for that.
- Souvenirs are expensive and heavy. If you plan on buying things while you’re abroad, make sure a) that you budget for that and b) that you have space (and strength) to carry them.
- Once you’re traveling you are responsible for your expenses. Be sure you keep track of where your money is going before it’s all gone…and you still have places to go.