Traveling on a Budget
Do you have the itch to travel but your piggy bank is saying otherwise? It’s hard to find the funds to travel as a student, given the cost of classes, books, loans, and everything else that comes with adulthood. But with a few helpful tips, you’ll be able to fit a getaway into your tight budget.
Prioritize: If you really want to go on a trip, you are going to have to make it a priority. Remember what it is you are working towards and remind yourself of your goal often to keep yourself on track. Write reminders to yourself in your agenda and keep a pictures of your ideal destination posted where you will often look at it to keep it from slipping to the back of your mind.
Finding Funds: If you are saving for a trip, you need a job. You can try creating a GoFundMe page or asking around, but the surest way to get funds is to work for it. If you are looking for employment, try sites like Indeed and LinkedIn, which have a multitude of options. Get out and look for postings in your area. If you can, hand in your resume in person. If you are already working, take the time to re-evaluate your schedule and work out the most efficient way to balance school, work and downtime.
Use your savings account: Every time you get a paycheque, make sure to save at least 10%. Before you know it, you will have accumulated a good little sum. If you don’t think you can keep up with this on your own, ask one of your bank’s representatives to create an automated system that will allocate money to a desired account every paycheque.
The Weekly Spend: One way to watch your weekly spending is by using a method that I call “The Cash Diet”. Give yourself a limit, set aside whatever your limit may be, and take it out in cash at the beginning of the week. If you don’t have cash for it, you shouldn’t buy it. Test yourself and see if you can make your money last through the week. A good place to start is $20, and you can play with the amount you think you can survive off of from there. If you need to keep your bank cards on you for emergencies, put them in a less place that makes it harder to grab out of your wallet.
Point cards: An alternative to the cash diet is to use credit for everything and gather Flyer miles. Ask your bank about credit cards with traveller benefits. Keep in mind that this method takes a lot of self-discipline, as you will get in the habit of using your credit card.
Keep Track of Your Money: There are a number of apps that allow you to see where your money is being spent. Here is where you can adjust your spending patterns and really see where your extra cash is going. Some good apps are Flipp, Wally, Mint, Goalkeeper and even personal banking apps like TD’s MySpend app. If apps aren’t your thing, there is a multitude of online templates that allow you to insert your spending info. I also recommend the online templates made by Canadian Gale Van-Oxlade. Her easy-to-use spreadsheets help you plan a budget on your own.
Cut Back on bills: If you tend to over-spend, find out where your money is going. See if there are cheaper alternatives to some of the monthly bills you are paying.
Flights: When a couple of months have gone by and you have saved an appropriate sum for a trip, you will need to find good deals. All-inclusives are always a great alternative to minimize your spending. They usually include the flight, housing, food, and entertainment. For other kinds of vacations, try searching in an incognito browser while looking for flights. You will be guaranteed to find lower prices because your browsing information will not be tracked, and the prices won’t inflate as you search.
Choosing a hotel: If you’re looking for cheap accommodation, Airbnb rentals are great alternatives to hotels. The site makes it easy to book places, and the numerous reviews allow you to chose a location best suited to your needs.
Affordable activities: Check sites like Groupon for deals on activities you might be able to do once you arrive at your destination. There are always coupons and great deals online.
Now you’re all set for saving and planning your next trip. Safe Travels!