Deciding to travel is easy, but saving effectively for a domestic or international trip isn’t always so effortless. Factor in the standard costs of travel along with unexpected expenses and you’re in it to spend a pretty penny.
Though costs can quickly accumulate, traveling is every bit worth the time and effort. You’ll have memories to keep for a lifetime and stories that can be passed down from generation to generation. With the right preparation and tips to smart travel on a budget, your journey will be no less than smooth sailing.
A few unexpected costs of international travel
Unexpected costs don’t always have to be so “unexpected”. For those that are traveling internationally, you should consider saving for the following:
If you’re planning on leaving the country, you won’t be able to exit unless you have a valid passport. Many countries require your passport to be valid for three to six months beyond your date of departure. Websites like the ‘U.S. Passport Help Guide’ offer a full list of countries that follow the six-month rule.
Don’t have a passport? There’s no need to worry as long as you get one made no less than 4-6 weeks ahead of your date of departure. It typically will take 4-6 weeks for your passport to be processed. If you’re short on time, you’ll have to pay $60 USD for your passport to be expedited. A new passport will cost around $110 USD and renewing one will cost you the same.
Not every country allows you to enter without a visa or for free. With your ideal destination in mind, check websites like ‘CIBT visas’ to see whether or not your travel plan requires a travel visa. Depending on the country you select, be prepared to save a little extra to enter.
No matter what country you’re going to, you’re likely going to need cash. Though there are debit cards available that have no foreign transaction or ATM fees, there are many that do. Most commonly, ATM withdrawal fees will be between $1-$5, plus an additional 1%-3% of the amount you withdraw. These fees can easily add up when there are daily limits on cash withdraws, so be prepared to save for ATM fees.
Before you leave to your destination abroad, you must select an affordable international plan for your cellphone. Foreign cell phone and data fees can leave you with a tremendous bill that you won’t want to pay. Contact your carrier in advance to select an option that works for your travel budget.
Tips to save money
Open a savings account
Opening a savings account seems like an obvious choice when sticking to any budget, but it’s not a choice to be overlooked. When you have a dollar amount in mind that you can stash away in your savings, consider setting up automatic deposits to steadily build your savings account. Over time, you’ll have enough for your next trip without the worry of how you can afford it.
Assess your current budget and cut back where necessary
Many individuals can’t account for everything they spend their money on. Ultimately, this may leave them in situations where they’re overspending or not having enough money in the long run to cover their expenses.
One of the first steps toward knowing just how much money to save for your trip is considering how you spend your money on a day to day basis. By using budgeting apps like ‘Mint’, you’ll be able to build and track your monthly and annual budget. Always ensure that you have a nest egg for financial emergencies. If possible, cut back on expenses temporarily to save even more for your trip.
The following are a few expenses you can eliminate to improve your savings:
- Cable TV
- Dining out
- Fancy coffee drinks
- Gym membership
- Additional subscriptions
Start a side project to earn extra cash
Trade-in those weekends you spend lounging for a new “side-hustle”. Keeping your unique needs and skills in mind, find a new project you can invest time in that will help you earn a respectable amount of cash.
Need ideas? Here are some common gigs individuals begin:
- Selling items on eBay or Craigslist
- Creating an online course
- Selling technical services on Upwork
- Becoming a virtual assistant
Save on the big expenses of travel
If you want to save on the large expense of accommodation, consider booking with Airbnb instead of fancy hotels. Airbnb offers weekly and monthly discounts for longer stays.
We all know that purchasing a flight can be one of the largest expenses for a trip. Websites like Skyscanner, Momondo, and Kiwi offer incredible deals that lessen the high cost of flying. Our recommendation is to book your flight as early as possible for optimal saving.
Start saving today
The reasons for saving go well beyond a destination trip. Saving money helps you become financially secure and is completely necessary in the case of an emergency. In our article ‘How much should I save in my 20s, 30s, and 40s?’, we discuss just how to save for those important decades. If paying off debt is preventing you from traveling, read one of our latest articles on debt repayment tips by clicking here.