Traveling on a budget
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
I love to travel. Traveling is something I talk to a client about regularly because it’s what most people dream about when planning for retirement.
Retirement should be about doing what you enjoy. For many that includes traveling in retirement. Longer trips are possible in retirement as you are not tied down to a job even though many people do volunteer work or work in retirement. Each person should find what is important to them and do that in retirement. Often travel will tie into your dreams in life. Many people now have “The Bucket List” they are working on. As a wise man once told me “Look in the mirror and know that you have taken chances and worked on your dreams and what is important to you, not with regret of all the chances not taken.” That wise man was my Dad.
Collecting points for travel
Travel at any time can be very expensive and it is very easy to overspend on extra luxuries that don’t really matter. It is best to get into wise travel habits before those big retirement trips come along. Using travel points is a great way to ease the travel budget. You are spending the money anyway so why not collect points on your everyday items. I love collecting any free travel points I can. In about 8 months I had over $300 toward my flight to Toronto from a small limit credit card I use for purchases. I planned ahead for the expenses there; so I know I have enough cash to pay for the things I have planned with my daughters.
If you plan ahead for annual or semi-annual vacations (or more); you can control your spending when you use either a small limit credit card, a prepaid credit card or only the cash allocated in your account for it. Breaking down the total costs into money goals based on when paydays are works well. You can budget your travel points if you know how many you collect yearly. Many people travel for work and are collect significant air miles from work travel.
Paying cash on your holiday helps to avoid that depressing feeling some people get once the vacation is over and the bills roll in. Paying cash also keeps you out of the tourist traps avoiding splurging on typical tourist souvenirs. Keep the money in your pocket by taking a photo to preserve the memories instead of collecting those holiday trinkets.
When it comes to buying things while on vacation, I always remember an article I read many years ago which stated; “go browse in the stores, look, feel and smell the things you think you need to have. Then go home and think about the money still in your pocket and the things you don’t need to dust or store away. If you need to, go back and look again at the beautiful things but leave your money at home. Get your fill by looking and touching.”
Eating on a budget
When I travel, I often stay in condos or bed and breakfasts. This helps avoid having to eat in a restaurant for every meal as well as keeps my waistline a little slimmer. Recently a friend and I found a great Inn in Montana for a mere 49 per night! We took along a cooler and avoided too many calories and too much food. I also find many times portions are too large in a restaurant so if I am traveling with a friend we order and have the meal split and served on two plates. A few years ago I treated my oldest daughter on a trip to Paris. Our travel agent found a package with flights and a newly renovated hotel In a great part of Paris. Fortunately for us, this hotel had a full spread for a breakfast buffet. We made sure we filled up at breakfast on the yogurt, fruit, fresh french bread, meats, eggs and of course a pan au chocolate still warm. Mmm, breakfast was wonderful. We could go most of the day on a light snack and then have the typical late dinner in Paris. We found it quite inexpensive this way. While there we made use of the massive subway system and beautiful walkways full of statues and flowers. We spent 9 great days together in Paris and hardly spent any money as I used travel points for most of the cost.
Saving for a vacation
Many people have fallen into the instant gratification trap and instead of saving for holidays, they charge it. It gives a great feeling of control and pride when you achieve your dreams of travel with your own money. Money is just another tool used to create your dreams. Take the money you budget per pay for travel and open a high-interest bank account.
Remember to control and use money or it will control your life.