Most people are not rich. But when something is important, most people find a way to pull together the cash and get the thing that they want. For me, the thing that I have always wanted, and the thing that I spend extra cash on, is travel.
Travel has made me smarter, braver, more flexible, organized, patient, and compassionate. It has allowed me to meet people from other cultures and helped me to understand their way of life. Travel has brought adventure into my life. It has been worth every penny it has cost to me although I have no idea how many pennies that is. When I travel I take home the memories of the experience but I rarely remember what a trip, a hotel room, or a special dinner cost.
Saving money on travel and for travel has been easier than you might think. I taught myself to be a good travel shopper, learning where and how to find the best deals. Then I find ways to save money throughout the year. If you find it difficult or impossible to travel because of a lack of funds, try some of these creative tricks and find out just how much cash you can pull together. Okay, so maybe you won’t go to Paris this year. But you might save enough for a relaxing week at the beach.
1) Shop for the right credit card. Airline credit cards can save you money on tickets, baggage fees and get you priority boarding. Use the credit card for every purchase you make throughout the year and the points will pile up. Eventually you will have enough points for a free flight. With travel or other credit cards you might be able to redeem points for restaurant gift cards, car rentals, or free hotel rooms which will reduce the cost of your trip.
2) Auto deduct from your paycheck. Set up a savings account at your bank and have a certain amount of money deposited into it every time you get paid. You tend not to miss money that you don’t have in the first place and you will adjust your budget accordingly.
3) Avoid shopping. Instead of hitting the mall, meet friends for a walk in the park. Instead of browsing the bookstore or news stand, browse the library instead. Pop some popcorn and spend Saturday night in front of the TV watching movies. Every trip to the mall that you don’t make is likely to save you some dollars.
4) Invite friends over. Instead of going out, invite friends in for a pot luck meal or an evening of poker or Cards Against Humanity. They are likely to appreciate the savings as much as you do.
5) Tax yourself. Whenever you spend money on anything charge yourself a minimum of 10% or $1 whichever is greater. If you stop before work and spend $4.00 on a coffee, you immediately Set aside one dollar for the vacation fund. If you go to dinner and the bill is $40, you paid the bill, leave the tip, and put $4 into your travel stash. When you set aside money at the same time you are spending money you tend to not miss it. And money saved this way adds up very quickly.
6) Save the small stuff. Every evening empty your pockets and purse of all of your change and one dollar bills. Hide it away, along with your “tax stash” in a money jar or box. You can’t spend money that you don’t carry with you.
7) Join rewards programs. All the airlines, hotel chains and car rental agencies have them. Even if you don’t stay in a particular hotel often enough to earn enough points for freenights, it is still worth joining the rewards program. That’s because most of them allow you the option of transferring the points you earn to your frequent flyer account or another points program.
8) Sell items you no longer need for extra cash. Clean your closets and the basement. Have a garage sale. Find a local consignment shop. Set up an account on eBay and start selling items that you no longer need or want (including the unsold items from your garage sale). I’m often surprised by how much money I can get on Ebay for something that I expect to have little value. Even if all you have are smaller items, their value will add up. You may have to sell 10 or 20 different things but eventually you may make enough money to pay for a night in a hotel.
9) Surf for saving. Check the websites of your destinations for money saving coupons. Some cities and visitors bureaus offer coupon books that offer discounts on all sorts of businesses and attractions. Other coupons and specials can be found on a business’ individual webpage.
10) Drive instead. Save money by choosing a destination that you can drive to. Driving is almost always cheaper than flying, especially when you include baggage fees and the cost of parking and renting a car at your destination. The experience of seeing the countryside as you drive will also enhance your trip.