Funding Your Dream Vacation

It’s a sad irony that we often can’t afford the trips we want when we’re young enough to want them. Like the middle-age crisis car, they’re financially out of reach until many years down the road.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. There are ways to get enough money–even in your young, cash-strapped position–to make the trip of your dreams before kids, jobs, and commitments tie you down until retirement.

The first step is to plan a realistic trip, and then get to work on the details of what you’ll do and how you’ll pay for it. Here’s a guide to get you started.

Economize Your Travel

You can find lots of ways to cut the cost of your trip before you even start saving up for it. That goes from the attractions you visit to the mode of travel you use and the places you stay.

When we shoot for the stars in our travel dreams, we often include the number of stars on the hotels we want. And yes, there are lots of wonderful amenities associated with high-end lodging. But you don’t necessarily have to spend 4-star money to enjoy your trip. Remember that Chicago is Chicago no matter where you spend the night. 

And if you do stay in a nice hotel, remember that procuring a great rate on the room doesn’t affect the quality of your stay. You are in the same hotel as the people who paid 30% more, so invest some time in digging around!

Start With The Little Things

Once you know how much you need, you just have to figure out how to get it. Obviously, this is the hard part. Your overhead can really stretch your funds when you’re young, so that’s a great place to start looking.

You can save a bundle with bundling. Putting your TV and internet together through the same provider will help you save on the overall cost. DIRECTV Internet bundles provide substantial savings over purchasing the services separately.

And don’t be afraid of coupons. While we often imagine these tools as a way to get 2-for-1 shampoo and other boring necessities, but they are available for countless other functions. Many restaurants provide coupons with significant savings just for joining their loyalty program or downloading their app. The same is true of clothing stores and even vehicle maintenance providers. Saving 10% here and 15% there can really add up, so do it!

Track your Progress

Once you know approximately what your trip is going to cost, you have your goal set. It’s just a matter of plowing money into the travel fund until you hit that level.

The problem many people encounter is temptation. They see that pickle jar or (preferably) lock box where the travel money is stashed, and it becomes a tempting target when a new outfit is on sale, or when a “once-in-a-lifetime” concert comes to town.

You need accountability when money is so freely accessible. You’ve seen those giant thermometers used by many charities to track their progress. Adapt that to your own trip, with a personal twist. If it’s Vegas you want to hit, draw a growing stack of poker chips on a poster. If it’s Rio, draw an outline of the “Christ The Redeemer” status and gradually color it in. You get the idea. When you’re faced with a physical reminder of the progress you’ve made, it’s easier to resist the urge to rob yourself!

When you’re still slugging through grad school or just getting started in your career, vacation can be the furthest thing from your mind. But like any goal, it will never be reached if you never start taking steps. Once you begin to plan what to do and how to fund it, your dream vacation can turn out to be much closer than you think.

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