I love to travel. If I could I would travel full-time. I love exploring new places and meeting new people. Unfortunately, my budget and responsibilities don’t allow for me to be a Professional Hobo. <<<<——–great site…love reading about her adventures.
We are planning almost 3 weeks in Costa Rica at the end of December/beginning of January. We don’t normally travel for this length of time, nor do we normally travel out of country as a family. We are not wealthy. I consider us to be your average lower-mid class income earners.
However, I truly believe that anyone is able to travel if it’s a priority. That is a very important concept to understand. If travel is low on your priority list it’s not going to happen.
Going to Costa Rica became a top priority for us. Our son graduated from High School in June and our daughter is in 9th grade. This will probably be one of the last family trips we take. I hope not, but the reality is that our children eventually move out and live their own lives~~~traveling with mom and dad isn’t usually at the top of their “to-do” list. Think about the last time you travelled with your parents. I don’t think I travelled with mine at all during my 20′s
Finding money for this trip has been interesting. It’s not like we have excess cash just laying around waiting to be spent. I know some people have wondered how the heck we can afford a family trip to Costa Rica. I thought I would share some tips and tricks that are working for us. (your mileage may vary)
- Start planning early. The sooner you plan the longer you have to save money. I bought our airline tickets back in back in the middle of June. I stayed flexible with our departure date, we are leaving just after Christmas, and scored the tickets for the all time low price of $238 plus tax. It was approx $300 per ticket after tax and insurance. Oh, we were also flexible about our departure airport. We live in the middle of nowhere so we are used to having to drive to catch a flight. Normally, we go out of Detroit which is about a 4 hour drive. It will take us about 5 hours to drive to Chicago airport. (Bonus: we can park our car at my sister-in-laws, so no parking fees)
- Learn to say NO. This is so hard, but we’ve learned to say no to a lot of things (ie: dinners, concerts, movies, weekend getaways, etc). Every dollar counts. It is important that you learn how to do this and be able to do it long term. We were looking at months and months of telling ourselves, and the kids, no. At first it was difficult because December seemed so far off, but now that it is closer it is becoming a little easier. We just remind ourselves that it’s for the greater good and it seems to ease the pain a bit.
- Pay your vacation account first. This has really helped. Right after buying our tickets I opened a separate savings account at the bank. Then I set up an automatic transfer from my checking to my vacation savings to occur every payday ( I have direct deposit). I put in an amount that would cause us to be a bit more cautious with money, but didn’t leave us penniless. This has been a huge step towards saving enough money. I hear some of you saving “but I don’t have any extra money.” Yes, you do…you just have to find it. Write down where you spend every one of your dollars and then look for what can be eliminated. Start small, maybe you only put away $10 a week, but as you reduce your excess spending you will be able to increase your savings.
- Limit eating out. If you can limit eating out to once or twice a month you will save lots of money. We were eating out lunch almost everyday and dinners out at least once a week. I added it up. It was over $200/month. We stopped going out and put that money in our vacation account. Also, be sure to use the restaurant.com button on the right—->> They have great deals. Often you can purchase a $25 gift certificate for $2. I’ll keep ya posted.
- Sell your crap. You know it’s just been sitting around and you’ve been meaning to sell it Well, now is the time. Ebay, Craigs List, Amazon, etc, etc. Lots of options for selling your items online. Baker over at ManVsDebt. has a great ebook on how to effectively sell your crap. He walks you through how to successfully sell online. This is great since I want to actually sell my crap and I need my items to stand out above all the other sellers. Baker is also a great resource for learning how to get a handle on your finances.
- Use your library. As you all know I am an avid reader. I could easily buy a book or three a week. Since planning for Costa Rica I have learned to stop by the library and check books out. It’s free and allows me to save a few more dollars.
- Create a menu plan and stick to it. We used to go to the store at least every other day, if not daily for groceries. By creating a weekly menu plan and buying all the groceries at once it has reduced our food cost. Make sure to use up left overs as well. Pick one day a week and have a “left overs” dinner. The less time you spend at a store the better chance you have of saving money.
- Find free entertainment. Check your local paper for ideas (our paper list events on Thursday for the upcoming weekend). Also, check for free movies being played at a local movie theater. Ours runs a special in the fall and spring. We also geocache, hike and ride our bikes.
- Be creative. Look for ways that you can bring in extra income. Write paid blog posts (two places that pay are social spark and BootsnAll ), sell your artwork/crafts online (consider etsy.com, ebay, etc), start a small business (my photography business will definitely help finance this trip), check elance.com for opportunities, start Affiliate Marketing. The opportunities are limited only by your imagination.
How do you save for travel??? Do you have any hints or tips for me? I’d love to find more ways to save/earn money.