Are you frustrated because you love to travel but don't have the scratch you need to get out there? Lots of people I know share that problem. The good news is there are three easy solutions you can put in place fast to turn your hesitation around.
Before we jump in, let me share a quick story about two people who really took travel seriously, as I think it may motivate you. Lynne and Tim, a retired couple, traded their house key for a backpack and have been on the road a few years now. Lynne even wrote an article published in the Wall Street Journal about her adventures. The couple epitomizes the solutions we're about to discuss. You may not want to be a full-time vagabond, but you can use the same solutions to hit the road and have a better time while doing so.
Your Spending Plan. When you talk about being able to travel, you can't ignore the cost. This may sound counterintuitive but the longer your trips are, the lower your daily cost will be. Often the difference is dramatic. That's because when you travel for longer periods of time, it's easier to find inexpensive lodging and dining solutions.
If possible, try to arrange trips that last at least three weeks or longer and have a "home base" that will allow you to branch out and make side trips. Your home base should have some type of kitchen facilities, since there is nothing more expensive than dining out. Such lodgings are significantly less expensive per day than pricy hotels. Chances are you won't be in the center of the action, but so what? The money you'll save more than makes up for the inexpensive train or bus fair to town.
Check out sites like www.vrbo.com and www.homeaway.com for inexpensive vacation rentals.
Your Savings Plan. Now that you have squeezed out every bit of travel cost possible, it's time to set up your budget. You know how much money you are going to spend and possibly when you want to spend it. Let's assume you calculate that you need $5,000 for your trip and you want to travel in 10 months.
Guess how much money you need to save each month? $500. There are many ways you can accumulate that money. The easiest way to achieve your goal is to go through your spending with a fine-tooth comb. Can you squeeze $500 out of your spending every month? If so, set up a travel bank account and have that money automatically deposited into the account.
If you can't find $500 in cuts, line up as many cuts as possible. You can make up the difference by either delaying your trip (to give yourself more time to save) or finding a way to bring more money each month with a part-time or weekend job.
I'm against the idea of raiding your savings to fund travel. You set up those savings accounts for a reason. Travel doesn't qualify as an emergency, so don't think about dipping into your emergency fund. Don't cheat yourself by taking the easy route. Cut your travel costs and then cut your spending or earn a bit more in order to accumulate your required amount.
But what if you can't find the savings you need in spending cuts or side jobs?
Your Priorities Plan. If you've taken the steps I've outlined above and still don't have enough money to go, it means you should not travel because it's not your priority.
Granted, there are people who won't accept this. They simply don't have the money to travel. They aren't willing to do what is necessary to come up with the money. And yet they travel anyway. They either bust into their savings or investment accounts or rack up credit-card debt. Both of these options can lead to financial consequences. Once you start finding excuses to stick your fingers into the cookie jar, it's hard to put the lid back on.
Your solution here is to re-evaluate your priorities. If you really want to travel, I'm all for it. Just make sure you cut your travel costs and accumulate the money you need to travel before you shit the road.
How do you fund your travel? Have you found other ways to cut costs?
Neal Frankle is a Certified Financial Planner and blogger at www.WealthPilgrim.com. One of the most detailed posts he has written was his review of the online bank Perkstreet.