Want to go to Milan, Italy, but can only afford to go to Milan Nail Salon in _______, USA? What if I told you, you can go regardless of your current financial situation? Sounds like a pitch for a product or pyramid scheme, right? It’s not, it’s an explanation of common sensibility that you can apply to your lifestyle…WOOT WOOT!!! Oh, and here’s something for you. All this coming from someone who DOES NOT budget because I suck at it!
1. Volunteer vacations! There are so many out there, I’m not even going to list any companies here. Partly because I haven’t fully researched any, partly because I’m lazy and I feel you should put in the work to get what you want. Check: I have turned into my parents.
You may be thinking why would I want to go somewhere to work? I don’t want to be on someone else’s schedule and I do that on the daily now. Think about this, it’s a little known fact that you could possibly obtain a tax break from this excursion to benefit your next one. For example, teaching English As a Second Language in Thailand would be an investment towards that trip to Machu Picchu for the following year. Talk to your tax preparer, decide on the organization you want to work with, narrow down the location, and GO! It’s a win win situation because you’re the captain of this boat and the people you’ll meet, influence, and be influenced by could lead to life long mateys!
2. Take a side job. Preferably something “under the table” and something active. Hey, I’m not saying to cheat Uncle Sam…ok, never mind, I’ll own it…but charging $12-15/hr to walk a dog in the evenings? Ol’ Sammy boy isn’t going to miss that. Check your area and see what odd jobs you could do. Don’t be ashamed to advertise that you’re working towards your trip of a lifetime. I know I would support that quicker than someone who sets up a GoFundMe site because they don’t have the funds, yet are able bodied and don’t have any better reason other than lack of funds. Check out this website for a list of side jobs or inspiration to get your own ideas flowing: http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/ways-to-make-money/
Every cent you earn from this should go into an account with a high return rate, or a coffee can. Your choice. Check with your bank to check how they can help or look into sites like https://www.smartypig.com/ for high APR returns.
Adulting note: be aware that any venture you do, there could be situations. You may want to consider insurance, freedom of liability protection, etc. It sucks I know, but this is how I release myself from liability of those not so sensible. BOOM!
3. Automatic balance transfers! My husband and I have a separate savings account not associated with our online checking and savings. I currently have no idea what is in this account, but we have been addding $50 per paycheck from each of our paychecks. Once a year, I look into that acccount. I then pull out all of it, but $5. The last time I withdrew from it, we took a week’s long vacation in New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont hitting up resorts everyday to snowboard. Worry free because the dead presidents were along for the ride. (Insert happy-can’t-get-this-song-out-of-my-head-though-roadtrip-ditty here.)
4. Travel off season. Sure, going to the Bahamas during hurricane season may not be the best idea, but it will save you some serious moolah! For example, I booked a week long Ireland trip that included 6 nights lodging, breakfasts, car with GPS, and airfare from JFK. We traveled in October and paid a little over $1200 for the two of us. The weather wasn’t the best, but that made me appreciate the Irish coffees so much more!!! If you automatically took $50 from a bi-weekly pay, that would take you about a year to save for two people, not including meals. You’re on your own with meals because I’m a grazer and my husband prefers steak, all the time. Side note: In Ireland, do not look for corned beef and cabbage. That is not what they call it, they call it bacon and cabbage. My poor hubby went without for a few days before we were enlightened.
5. Instead of Christmas presents, take that vacation. I have friends that would shower their three girls with a cornucopia of Christmas gifts. Then they decided why not take a family vacation instead? They talked to their girls and all were onboard to spend Christmas at the Alyeska Hotel in Girdwood, Alaska for a week in lieu of receiving gifts. I’m so happy for them as I believe the bonding time they also get trumps the newest gadget or “gotta have it” item.
They’ve been continuing this tradition for the last few years and I love seeing the pictures!
6. Make coffee at home. Yes, I had to add this, mostly because I’m not that creative.
If that craft coffee is more important than going on safari in Africa, then leave me a nasty comment. (I should warn you: I like nasty comments.) I get really sick of people saying they wish they could take that trip, but don’t have the funds…as they drink their $7 pumpkin latte that they have every day ($7 x 7 days = $49/wk). Take a good, hard look at your vices and decide what is a need and what is a want. Simple, right? It should be.
I like treating myself, but I’ll stick with my black coffee that percolated in my kitchen and scour http://www.Travelocity.com for deals.
7. Have you ever heard of “couchsurfing”? It’s a hospitality network that provides a platform for members to “surf” on couches by staying as a guest at a host’s home. This is of course provided you feel comfortable staying with complete strangers. I feel like that’s half the adventure in itself! The best part? Arranged homestays don’t involve payment for lodging. They even offer an app so you connect with other couchsurfers in the area. Hobos unite!
If you’re not comfortable with letting it all hang out, there are other sites like www.airbnb.com where you can rent a private room, even a whole house, for a specified stay. Definitely less expensive and more homey than staying at a hotel, but be warned. Some hosts add extras like cleaning fees and an extra person charge so that initial quote may add up in the end. Also, check the host’s policy on booking as some offer no refund as soon as you hit the Book Now button.
So, there you have it! My common sense tips on how to budget for that Bad Ass (BA) trip. Now I’m going to tell you my ultimate secret on how to achieve that BA trip of yours in one word:
The pyramids in Egypt have been there for more years than you can fathom, they’ll be there within the next 1-3 years that it takes you to save. Don’t give up on your dreams because it seems beyond reach now. It takes time, and patience, but your dedication will culminate into an airline ticket, that cruise, or even that safari.
Much love and Aloha…
Your Clueless, most of the time, Traveler