Over the summer, I spent 40 days traveling across Europe. To read about the individual countries and cities that I traveled to (including Rome, Nice, and Iceland), visit our A World of Wanderlusting archive. This article will specifically cover how I funded my 40-day trip.
Now, it’s pretty clear that most twenty-somethings have an incredible case of wanderlust. Some don’t and that’s okay, but many of us still want to leave our hometowns and experience the culture the world has to offer. We see bloggers that are able to travel all over the globe, take stunning photos, and jet off to a new location every few weeks. The little green monster in all of us becomes terribly envious while we sit here and work the nine-to-five grind.
But, while traveling is great it, isn’t cheap. Most of us need the nine-to-five to be able to afford adventure around the globe. International flights can cost well over a $1,000 and accommodations can add up in a hurry. Plus, when you are traveling to a new destination, you don’t want to skimp on local cuisine and activities in that new city or country, all of which add more expenses to your travel budget.
So as a twenty-something, how can you afford to fund your case of wanderlust?
While a European vacation can cost a few thousand dollars, there is no doubt that you will be able to afford it. The real question is, when will you be able to afford it? The answer to that is, understandably, not right away, but eventually.
Once I decided that this was a trip I wanted to take, there were a few crucial steps that I took to turn it from dream to reality:
1. Set your goal. First you need to pick your destination. Once you have a firm place set in mind, it’s a lot easier to save up for it. Consider your limitations (how comfortable are you in a place you don’t speak the language?), whether or not you will be traveling alone, and how long you want to travel for.
To keep yourself focused on your savings goal and motivated, you can post photos on an inspiration board. [Check out our Travel board on Pinterest for ideas!]
2. Figure out what you think your budget will be. This is important, do your research and decide what type of vacation you want. Do you want a nonstop flight? Or are you okay with a couple layovers? Are you going to hotel it? Are hostels OK? What kind of activities are there to do at your destination? What will you transportation be? All of these items will change what you need to budget for.
Once you understand what your budget needs are (padded with a few hundred dollars to be safe), you will know how much you need to save to afford your adventure.
3. Once you’ve set a cost, set a date. When do you want to go? Set a month and year that you want to go to this place. Deciding on this will allow you to divide what you need to save up by the months you have to save this amount. Divide your total budget by the months (or paychecks if you are paid bi-weekly) until you want to leave. This tells you how much money you need to be saving per month (or paycheck) to make your budget.
If that monthly amount seems daunting, you can pick up extra little side hustles to bring in more money, or sell things online to bring in some extra cash. You’ll really be surprised with how much you can make by selling new or gently used clothes and other items online.
Pro-tip: When your travel dates are three to six months away, book your plane tickets. One second you’re not going and then, with the click of a button, you are. Make it happen.
4. Set up a high-interest savings account for your travel! Now that you have your goal in mind, you need a place to keep your money.
Open a separate savings account so you can watch the balance grow and get excited as you plan your adventure. Having a separate account for travel will ensure that you don’t overspend and eat up your travel budget on frivolous things like takeout, J. Crew shopping sprees, or cab fare.
5. Saving up for a vacation in cash is important. There is no reason to go into debt for traveling. Remember: it is not a need, it is a want. Saving up for your trip should be a priority, but that doesn’t mean you can throw away your other financial goals or budget to fund your travels.
If you have already proven that you are financially responsible, test the waters with travel hacking as a way to lower costs and get extra travel perks like free hotel upgrades.
[Start here to learn how to make a budget].
Being financially responsible may sound boring, but the best part about saving up for your vacation beforehand and paying in cash is that when you return from your trip you won’t have any stress financially, you will just be able to transfer an amount from your savings to your credit card and you will be done. And then, you can start saving up for your next adventure!
How do you save up for your vacations? Share your tips with us in the comments!