Build your travel budget with these 7 tips.
Have your sights set on your next big getaway?
You may be staying close to home, or hopping across the pond to visit Europe, the Caribbean or Asia — the top three overseas destinations for American travelers, according to the Office of Travel & Tourism Industries.
Wherever you’re planning to explore, the first step is to start saving up! And we’ve got seven easy tips to get your travel budget in tip-top shape:
- Make it a savings game: Need motivation to save? Make it a game. Apps like Strides can help make saving fun with flexible reminders and charts that can keep you motivated and on track as you work toward your savings goal. You can also give yourself personal goals, like trying to buy lunch or a latte only once a week, or taking transit instead of driving to save on parking. Every time you take out your wallet, stop and ask yourself if it’s something you really need, or simply want.
- Set a tangible goal: To get started, determine how much you’ll need to save via a site like Budget Your Trip, which offers average travel costs from around the world, plus a tool to calculate your anticipated expenses. Then figure out how much time you have to save for your goal. For example, if you’re planning a trip to Jamaica in three months, take into account the cost of your flight, hotel, car rental, food and other expenses. If you estimate your trip will cost about $2,000, make it your target to save $166 per week.
- Give it a nickname: If it’s too tempting to spend what you’re saving, consider opening a separate savings account and giving it a nickname that will remind you of your goal. For example, name your account ‘trip’ or ‘NYC’ — that way, every time you see the balance go up, you’ll be reminded of the end goal and motivated to contribute even more. Try to choose a savings account that will work with you to help you reach your goals, like the BMO Harris Statement Savings Account, which has a low minimum opening deposit ($100) and no monthly maintenance fee for two years if you arrange monthly automatic transfers of at least $25 from your BMO Harris personal checking account.
- Maximize credit card perks: For the times when you have to spend money, you may as well get something in return. Consider consolidating your spending on one rewards card — such as the BMO Harris Bank Rewards MasterCard® or BMO Harris Premier Rewards MasterCard®, which provide points for purchases that you can redeem for travel and other rewards. Choose the type of rewards card that suits you best, and then work your credit card perks to help get you closer to your destination.
- Sell or trade things you don’t need: Consider scaling back your stuff, and make money while you’re at it! Purge closets of clothes you never wear, garages of equipment you never use, and basements of furniture you don’t need. Your old trash could be someone else’s treasure. Have a yard sale, try selling some clothes at consignment shops, or post things on Craigslist. For more tips on selling clothes, furniture and other items, check out our advice about how de-cluttering your home may put cash in your pocket.
- Use coupons when you can: Even if you only save a few cents, over time, a little goes a long way. Learn how to use coupons to save like a pro by visiting coupon sites and keeping your eyes peeled for fliers and promotions that arrive in your inbox or mailbox.
- Dine in: There are many benefits of cooking your own meals: you’ll eat healthier and save money on the high price of restaurant meals (and taxes and tips), plus you can hone your culinary skills and learn a bit about the culture of your travel destination. For example, if you’re saving for a trip to Italy, learn how to make some classic Italian dishes like the perfect pasta sauce or chicken parmesan.
Now that your vacation budget is in better shape, stretch it even further by keeping an eye on the exchange rate and getting foreign currency when it’s low. Plus, monitor hotel rates and flights (try the app Hopper, which does the work for you), book early and off-season if you can, and scour travel websites for vacation deals. Bon Voyage!
For more money-saving tips, read Turn your spending habit into a saving habit.
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