Make Travel a Priority in Your Budget

Setting priorities and sticking to them means committing to thousands of tiny choices: when to compromise, when to forgo. This is no different if you want to make travel a priority in your life and, like most people, you have a limited budget. Now’s the time to identify the power you have to re-prioritize your life and be confident in passing on some things so you can achieve others.

Identify your motivation and set your priorities

When you have a clear goal to structure your priorities around, it will be easier to make sacrifices to see that dream come true. Keep your motivation to travel in front of you—put up travel photos, follow travel social media accounts, set your phone or computer background to a photo from your dream destination, create a travel vision board on Pinterest, or put your dream destination into your weather app.

Saying that travel in general is a priority might not be enough when it comes to making tough budgeting decisions. So, define your priorities and motivations for your next trip. This will help you understand how best to spend money while traveling, what experiences to book, etc.

  • Experiencing a different culture
  • Relaxing
  • Taking a foodie tour
  • Exploring historic sites
  • Learning something new

Make saving automatic

See if you can structure your budget so you can count on a regular dollar amount saved each month—then make that saving automatic so you won’t forget or be tempted to spend the money! You can set up a direct deposit every month into a traveling savings account from your checking account or you might be able to make a direct deposit from your paycheck.

Start asking the true cost of each purchase

This will help you find more money in your budget to put into your travel fund! For each non-essential, variable expense (so not your car payment, mortgage, or insurance), think of it as a choice to spend the money now or later for something during your trip. Do you buy new trendy clothes now, or an extra night in a hotel? Lattes and drinks out now, or cappuccinos and wine while traveling? The cost of things now isn’t just their monetary value, it’s what you aren’t going to be able to spend the money on while traveling.

Now change your habits

Once you find expenses you can let go of entirely, or spend on less frequently, make new habits so you can stick to your resolve! Don’t put yourself in tempting situations. Find replacement experiences that are less expensive. Tell friends and family you’re saving for a trip and suggest going out for cheaper happy hour drinks, hosting a potluck, or going somewhere with a Groupon discount.

For most people, in order to make a new habit—and for you this means making travel a regular habit—you have to change other habits. Very few people have the luxury of being able to add new habits without changing or eliminating others (after all, money, time, and energy are finite resources).

Make travel credit cards work for you

If you don’t already have a credit card that offers travel rewards like airline miles, free checked bags or ticket upgrades, or free hotel stays, now might be the time to get one! Identify which card gives you the rewards you’ll use, then use the credit card as you would your debit card—for as many planned expenses as possible. Remember, no travel discount is worth going into debt for. Spend only what you have budgeted and pay off your balance every month.

Find a side hustle

You probably guessed this one was coming. Consider freelancing or a part-time job on the evenings or weekends that will allow you to reach your travel budget goals faster.

Embrace weekend trips

Filling your life with more travel doesn’t exclusively involve month-long trips to Europe. Sprinkling in smaller trips to closer locals is a great way to refresh and recharge your mind and experience something new.

If you have the ability, consider working remotely for some days during your trip to take advantage of cheaper travel days and reserve more of your paid time off.

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