Welcome back to The Clumsy Traveler’s financial planning series to save for an amazing vacation. Today’s post will tell you everything I do to save before traveling or making any major travel purchases.
If you’re wondering where I’m going for my birthday trip the answer is: No, I still haven’t chosen my location.
This is mostly because the cost of my flight is a major factor when I decide where to travel. Something we’ll discuss later is the optimal time to buy a flight for your trip. Since this time has not come yet (generally 2-3 months before take off), I have not been able to see the most competitive price for flights.
Since the flight is such a big part of the budget, I need some money fast. I’ll need money before my trip when purchasing flights, booking accommodation, tours and travel insurance. I’ll also need money on the road for transportation, food and gratuity. That’s why these tips are essential! I need spending money both before and during my travels and these steps help me get there.
My last post revealed some of my go-to ways to save (my favorites are numbers 2, 4 and 9). And while I utilize all of those techniques, below is a more detailed guide and plenty of resources on how I save before making any large travel purchases.
Getting Back to the Basics
Before any big trip, I make a spreadsheet of my monthly bills. This is where my Mint App comes in handy. Since it’s connected to my bank accounts, I can see an exact number of what I spend on budgets that are ever-changing like food and gas. (When making your spreadsheet, be sure you separate groceries from restaurants. It makes a big difference and shows you a lot about your dining habits!)
Once I make this list, I highlight the things I need in red. This includes rent, loans and bills that generally don’t budge. Then, I highlight all the things I want in green. This includes trips to the salon, coffee budget, nights out with friends, etc.
At this point, I try to figure out how to cut the items in green. There are some things that are easy to cut back on and things that take some serious creativity and willpower. For example, I can definitely cut out shopping and trips to my local cafe. I can’t, however skip dying my hair. It’s true, I ain’t a natural blonde. However, I can space out my visits to my hairdresser (meaning less money spent throughout the year).
Picking Up Extra Jobs
Saving for travel isn’t just about saving the money you already earn, but making extra money as well! That’s why it’s incredibly important to pick up flexible, part-time jobs where you can.
One of the great things about being a blogger/freelance writer is that it is an incredibly flexible job. This makes it easy to do two things:
1. Pick up more writing jobs
2. Find jobs outside of the writing field
Not many people know this but when I am back home, I am a brand ambassador for certain food/beverage companies. This means I’m the girl who gives out food samples at major grocery stores and events. It’s a bit humbling and it’s a lot of driving around but it’s incredibly flexible, is part-time and makes a lot of extra side money!
You may not be a writer, but you can pick up all sorts of odd jobs on the side! This can include being a rideshare driver, tutor, cashier at a local shop, dog walker, virtual assistant, model or ambassador for companies, bartender/server, babysitter, and of course, freelancer.
Earning Travel Points
My last post mentioned getting credit cards with great travel rewards to help save for travel. And while I only recommend this tip if you’re sure to pay off those bills monthly, it’s one of the best ways to earn “money” towards your travel budget. There are many great travel cards, but the ones that I personally use the most are the The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.
Earning travel points, also known as “travel hacking,” is the new travel currency. I once read a story where a savvy saver went to 9 continents in 9 months for only $418. How? With travel points. While there are too many tricks, loopholes and secrets for me to explain in one single post, I don’t want to leave you high and dry. Here are the best travel hacking resources that will teach you everything you need to know:
1. The Travel Hacking Cartel
2. Million Mile Secrets
3. The Points Guy
4. Extra Pack of Peanuts
5. The Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking by Matt Kepnes
6. Frugal Travel Guy
Make sure to check back as my next post of the series will provide you with insider tips for saving money on flights. Hopefully, I’ll have booked my birthday trip by then!
Sebrin Elms is a twenty-something newlywed with two kitties and a serious obsession with travel. She started her blog, The Clumsy Traveler, in anticipation of a 3-month long honeymoon around the world. When she came back, she wasn’t ready to stop writing and traveling! You can learn more about her story on her blog or follow her on Instagram @theclumsytraveler.