Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How I Afford to Travel

The other day a friend of mine sent me a text asking if I wanted to go to dinner on Saturday night.  I responded with “Sorry, I’m in Mexico” in which she responded “Must be nice”.  I stared at the screen annoyed for a few minutes.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on why her message was bothering me so much.  And then it hit me:  I invited this friend to come to Mexico with me over a year ago and she said she could not afford it.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand that there is a recession and that people are having financial difficulties.  However, in the case of this friend, every time I see her she is wearing designer clothing from head to toe, she is carrying the latest “it bag” and her hair/nails are freshly done.  Which brings me to the point of this blog:  I don’t question your priorities, please don’t “must be nice” mine.

Whew, feels good to get that off my chest.

Now that we are past that, let’s talk about the question I get asked most frequently – “how do you afford to travel?” and the answer is simple - I plan for it.  What does that mean?  It means that I do what I have to do in order to travel the way I want to travel.  This includes:

·       Budget – we have talked about this before.  I have a yearly travel budget.  I sit down at the beginning of each year and map out where I want to travel that year and when.  I then spend some time pricing flight options, hotels, etc. so that I have an idea of what each trip will cost.  I also give myself a cushion for other things I might want to do.  For instance, if I’m going to Australia I know that I will be snorkeling and other water related activities.  If I’m going to Paris, I know I will be doing some shopping.  Add it all up, and I now have my yearly travel budget.   

·        Separate Account – I have a set amount, which was determined based on my travel budget, direct deposited into my travel account each pay period.  I also have certain reimbursements, such as my Flexible Spending Account, sent directly into my travel account.  I use this account only for travel related items such as plane tickets, hotel reservations, and spending cash while traveling.

·     Cut the Fat – I have cut out things in order to save money.  For instance, outside of a regular trim and a deep condition I do not have my hair professionally done, I do my own manicure and pedicure using professional tools that I purchase from a wholesale website, I do not have cable TV and I take public transportation every chance I get to save on gas, parking, etc.

The most important thing I do:

·        Plan in Advance and Remain Flexible – since I know early in the year where I want to go, I set up airfare alerts in order to receive emails when fares to my destinations are dropping.  Most travel websites have this feature, I use Airfare Watchdog, but I do not depend on these websites to find me the best fare.  I randomly check airfare for my destinations, using different departure and return dates.  I also try and purchase my tickets at least 6 months in advance using a site that has a price guarantee so that if the price does drop I will receive a refund.

And there you have my answer to the question “How do you Afford to Travel”.  Of course, there are other things that help such as having points and friends that work for airlines and in the hotel industry; but for the most part, I stick to my budget and never loose site of what is important to me.

How do you save to travel?

16 comments:

  1. That comment would bother me too, though I'm sure she didn't mean that. It's not easy to save like that, but it definitely works. Priorities indeed!

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    1. Thing is, I get comments like that ALL the time. You can travel if you make the choice. You just have to make the choice!

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  2. Great tips Angela "Bae".....

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  3. Great post! I think people like to create excuses for what they can and cannot do. The fact is, people make time and manage money for what they find most important. To this particular friend, she obviously considers being, or rather, looking "fly" a top priority. But clothes go out of style, and trends do not last. It is better to create lasting memories. Whenever people hit me with the "must be nice" comment, I simply reply: "it is".

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    1. MJ - you are so right about that and I love your reply. I am going to start using that as my response. Sometimes I feel embarrassed about my travels. Especially since there are so many people struggling financially. But then I remember that I make sacrifices in order to live my life the way I want to live my life. Dinner @ Ruth's Chris Steakhouse once a month would be nice - but laying on the sands of Playa del Carmen is much nicer!

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  5. I've gotten to the point where I stop sharing my travel plans with folks, because I always get the, "Why don't you come visit me?" But, very few people have made it to my neck of the woods. LOL!

    A separate account is really necessary for travel because it allows you to get out of the habit of putting things on credit cards and it teaches discipline. I love the idea of setting a budget at the beginning of the year for every planned trip. Most important is a dedication to travel! Once you have that, you'll have as much travel as you want!

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    1. Michaela - I totally agree. I have family about 4 hours away and they are CONSTANTLY telling me to come visit, but for some reason they never make it my way.

      I try my best not to travel on credit. I like everything to be paid for before I even leave home, including any excursions I want to take. That way the only thing I need to be concerned with is spending cash and I can enjoy myself.

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  6. I get the SAME thing all the time! It was worse when I was working my full-time job and everyone at work used to "must be nice" me for taking 8 weeks of holidays every year. I had 4 weeks paid and the other 4 weeks I either earned through overtime or just took the time unpaid and adjusted my finances accordingly.

    I drive an older, paid-off car and just live with less in order to afford my frequent travels. Until I get tired of it (LOL not soon!) I will continue to live the way I want and enjoy life! This is not a rehearsal!!

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  7. Agreed. Traveling is a sacrifice in a way (no new clothes, restaurants, pricey weekend outings), but it's worth it in the end if that's your passion.

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  8. This post is right on the money! :D I HATE getting those comments too.

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    1. Thanks Chanel. People don't typically like to hear what I say about making travel a priority and scaling back my lifestyle. They would prefer to keep thinking that I have a secret stash of cash. LOL

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  9. "I don’t question your priorities, please don’t “must be nice” mine." <<< THIS.RIGHT.HERE. My sentiments exactly!

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    1. Hahahahahaha! Yes, I was having a moment. Thanks for reading the blog. Please come back often and be sure and "Like" the FB page: www.facebook.com/2girlsbikini

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