What does “living your best life” mean to you? If you’ve caught the travel bug, maybe it’s waking up to a view of the sunrise from the back of your customized camper van. Or taking time to feed the elephants at a wildlife sanctuary. Or spending a month learning a new language in a European hilltop town.
Here’s the thing: You can make this vision of your best life a reality. Sure, you may not be able to fit every fantastical trip into the same calendar year, but you don’t have to be born into a wealthy family to have a memory-making adventure. The key to living your best life is achieving financial confidence. That means putting a plan in place for your money, sticking to it, and making progress toward your goals, whether that’s “climb out of debt” or “climb the Rockies.”
Rather than switching to the all-ramen-all-the-time plan, think bigger (and more strategically). Here are some quick tips to jump-start your travel savings efforts so you can fuel your best life with financial confidence.
- Track your expenses: Put on your minimalist cap and really consider your needs versus wants—tracking every expense for a week or (even better!) a month can be eye-opening. You may find that having extra cash each month to put toward an exotic adventure may impact your happiness more than a new pair of jeans or a weekly dinner out.
- Utilize travel perks: Make the most of your credit card by signing up for travel perks. Put a manageable spending plan in place for the card and watch your dream vacation fund grow that much faster.
- Keep up with different airlines: Start paying attention to airlines’ marketing efforts—even if plans for a flight seem far-off. Subscribing to their newsletters and following them on social media will give you a sense of when they have the best sales (and what destinations are a good deal).
- Set-up reminders and alerts: Put even more of your money management on auto-pilot with online bill pay reminders and account balance alerts. Your plan will be easier to stick to when you can see how day-to-day spending decisions affect your travel dreams.
Still feel like that camper van is out of reach?
- Get creative! If your wages aren’t going up as fast as you’d like, maybe it’s time to start a side hustle. More than one in three Americans have, and thanks to mobile apps and online platforms it’s easier than ever to find a side gig (from pet-sitting to delivery driving to selling crafts) that fits your exact schedule.1
Bonus Tip: Take inventory of what you already own and sell any high-end items you don’t need (be real: when’s the last time you broke out that fancy juicer?). Stashing extra cash in your savings account from time to time can give a motivating jolt to your travel plans and may even inspire you to make more money-saving moves.
And, yes, you’ll have less spare time if you pick up a side hustle and less “stuff” if you go hog wild on the reselling sites, but guess what else you’ll have less of when you make your dream trip a reality? Regret. Because when 2,000 Baby Boomers were asked to name their top regret, not traveling enough topped their list.2 Learn from your elders? You bet: Start saving for that vacay ASAP.
1 “Gig Economy and the Future of Retirement,” May 2018, Betterment
2 “Baby Boomers Want to ‘Travel and Experience the World,’ but Cite Cost and Passports as a Hindrance,” March 11, 2016, BusinessWire (survey conducted by Censuswide and commissioned by British Airways)
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