The great outdoors is calling, and you just can’t wait any longer. It’s finally time to take to the road and travel. You’ve been planning this trip for ages. Every time you’re sitting at your desk at work, you’re wistfully gazing out into the middle distance, dreaming of this time next month when you’ll be hiking in the Andes or taking in the sights of New York. Now, you don’t need to dream any more, because it’s time to make your travel plans a reality.
Stop right there. Before you embark on your travels, it definitely pays (no pun intended) to make sure you’re budgeting correctly. We’ve lost count of the number of journeys that have been scuppered by poor or simply nonexistent budgeting. You don’t want to be halfway across the USA on your road trip when you suddenly realise you’ve completely run out of money. Here are 8 of our best tips on budgeting your dream journey.
- Start budgeting early
Don’t let your budgeting happen last-minute. Long, long before you start actually planning the holiday (or journey, or trek), you’ll want to start your budgeting process. This means careful examination of all your financial assets. You’ll want to look at your income, your expenses, and everything that’s contributing to your current financial state. Do you feel confident that you can afford this trip? If not, make sure you’re making allowances and moving things around so that you do. Don’t leave this aspect of your trip until the last minute, because you’ll regret it if you do.
- Consider taking out a loan
If you need a quick cash injection just to finish off the holiday funding - or you’re simply lacking in funds and you’re after a boost - then you could consider taking out a loan. If you’re a homeowner, we strongly recommend you consider second mortgage loans. You’ll often find that this type of loan allows you to borrow more money and quicker than many, simply because it’s secured against your property. You can worry about repayments and keeping up with your loan when you get back - for now, just go and enjoy your trip and leave the logistics until your return.
- Cut back on expenses
When you’re budgeting for a holiday, it pays to think seriously about whether your expenses are appropriate. Do you really need to buy the food you’re buying, or could you conceivably replace it with own-brand alternatives? Could you be making more of your own food? Is there a way you could travel more cheaply to work? However you decide to cut back on your expenses, you’ll really notice the difference as the weeks continue and your holiday fund grows. This is also great training for trying out frugal living in the long-term.
- Don’t skimp on details
You might simply be thinking “I can’t wait to get out of the office” and allowing your imagination to run away with you. That would be a mistake; a holiday is a well-oiled machine, and you’ll need to make sure you’ve planned for every single eventuality. Can you possibly find an off-peak flight that costs less? Could you plan your journey for a time in the year that’s not as busy, thus saving money? When you do arrive, could you budget for things to do that are slightly more off the beaten path? There are always details you can look at in order to save money for your holiday and budget more effectively.
- Look for discounts
Don’t simply rush into planning your holiday. There’s always a way you can wait for later deals and haggle your way into a better-priced trip. If you travel off-peak - outside of the summer months and Christmas, for example - you’ll slash massive amounts off your costs. Similarly, around Black Friday and other holidays, many travel companies will offer discounts in an effort to entice customers. Taking advantage of these discounts is the perfect way to make sure you’re maximising your holiday budget potential.
- Do thorough research on your destination
Don’t simply arrive at your destination and assume you’ll work out what to do later. Similarly, don’t just visit a country and head straight for all the obvious tourist spots. Go for things that most people wouldn’t think about when they visit that country. Doing so will really help you not only to keep costs down but also to enjoy your visit more. After all, if you’re not jostling for position with lots of other people, then you’ll have more time to appreciate whatever it is you’re visiting. Perhaps you might consider visiting an amazing lake, quiet towns full of scenic views or perhaps a budget considered trip to Amsterdam. Less obvious tourist attractions are often less costly, so do your research. You’ll thank yourself.
- Use your savings
If you’re not saving for moments like this, then why are you saving? Your savings are still money - if they’re simply sitting in your savings account and you’re not doing anything with them, then you’re not using them to their full potential. If there’s nothing else in the pipeline you’re waiting for, then it makes a lot of sense to spend your savings on your holiday. That way, you won’t be eating into your income and you can simply spend the money outright.
- Start saving early
Put a little money away each month for a long time before you actually embark on the trip. If you’re smart with your savings and you know how to plan ahead, you could potentially save thousands when starting a year or two in advance of your trip. Once you do, you’ll have a reservoir of cash to dip into when it comes to your holiday. Remember that it’s not just the cost of the holiday itself; there are plenty of unknowns you’ll need to consider as they come up. Having a dedicated bank of cash to draw from when this happens will feel like a godsend.