My husband and I established early on that travel was a top priority for us. I’m glad too because I’ve had a travel bug to see the world since I took my first flight to St. Louis in college. Since we love to travel we carve out a significant portion of our income to make sure it happens regularly. Here’s how we do it:
Determine trip costs
- Typically, a year to a few months in advance we will determine where we want to go. Based on that information we research to see what the cost of that type of trip will be.
Figure out a savings strategy
- After we’ve determined an estimate of the total trip costs we look at our annual budget to build out how we’ll save up for the trip. Each month we’ll save what makes sense for our budget and other expenses that we have. That looks different each month – sometimes it’s more and sometimes it’s less. In the end, the designated monthly amount should equal the total trip cost. As for travel-related expenses coming up along the way, we’ll pull from this budgeted money – think flights, hotels, activities, etc. I talk more about savings in general in this post.
- For the actual paying of the expense, we use our travel rewards credit card and immediately pay the expenses off with the saved amount for that particular month. This method allows us to maximize our rewards card but still ensures that we don’t pay any interest along the way. If we don’t have an expense to pay for on a particular month then we save the money in a savings account designated just for travel. Once an expense does come up, we’ll transfer the money from that account and pay for it.If you don’t use credit cards then you would simply use the money you’ve saved to pay for your expenses at that time. Need help building credit? Check out this post.
- This method of essentially “snowballing” our travel expenses is what we use to save for home decor projects and other big expenses. We used it to save for our wedding as well – it works!
Enjoy the fruit
Once we have saved and properly paid for the trip, we go on vacation with our hair down. It really makes for a stress-free experience because we aren’t worried about how things will get paid for. While traveling, we purchase everything with our travel rewards credit card so that we can earn points and value for future travel. Once we get back home we transfer the trip savings to our main bank account to pay off the credit card.
Now let’s break this down a little more so that you can visualize it. Let’s say you want to travel to Scottsdale, Arizona in May of 2023 and it’ll cost around $3500. With our method, we might save like this:
|September 2022||$400||Savings account.|
|October 2022||$500||Savings account.|
|November 2022||$600||Use this $600 to purchase flights but pay with a credit card. If flights are more than $600 reimburse the remainder from your savings account.|
|December 2022||$300||Savings account.|
|January 2023||$300||Savings account.|
|February 2023||$500||Pay for hotel in advance with the money saved so far or pay at the hotel in May.|
|March 2023||$500||Pay for activities with travel rewards credit card. Reimburse from savings account.|
|April 2023||$400||Savings account|
|May 2023||$0.00||Charge all expenses to travel rewards credit card and reimburse from savings after the trip is over.||Enjoy the fruits of your labor!|
I hope this all makes sense. Writing it all out makes me realize how difficult it is to explain but it works well for our lifestyle and budget. I’d say if you don’t already have a budget for your finances to start there then begin to weave in your travel expenses for each month. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!