How to become a smart money traveler

BY JOSEPHINE WAWIRA

More than often we shelve our travel plans due to the idea of how many expenses we must put up with. From booking ‘expensive’ flights to staying at ‘unaffordable’ hotels and having to deal with unanticipated outlays is absolutely something we need to cushion by making smart money moves. How long have you been stalling that hike to the enthralling Mt Longonot? Or a chilled beach holiday in Diani? Or perhaps a road trip across Africa? But every time you look at your bank account balance the comeback is RIP TRAVELING!

The question you must be asking is whether there is any way to come out of this and finally get to enjoy a vacation. My response, yes, it is, and this article aims at providing tips on becoming a smart money traveler from now to the time you make traveling a thing to always look forward to, knowing you got your finances in check and your travel costs smartly covered.

Setting and prioritizing your travel goals

So, your travel bucket list is probably one of the longest, and you are wondering where and how to begin executing your travel goals. Good news is that we already know you want to travel, but now is the time to review your list. Prioritize on the places that matter most to you, considering the purpose of your travel to the destination. Most importantly, arrange your priorities also depending on your budget, starting from those that can be inexpensively accomplished on the short-term to those that require more finances and most likely more time to prepare. What you want now is to get started, as this will get you not only on the momentum but also give you the zeal to clear your next destination from the bucket list.

Besides, at this stage you also need to work on your travel facers; the excuses that you may have, either knowingly or unknowingly – the false belief, for instance, that travel is for instance expensive and unaffordable and therefore you can’t travel because you don’t have the money or that it is extremely busy at work, or parenthood is enormously demanding and leaves you no time to travel. Whatever the hindrance may be, it is time to work through them and execute nimble.

Recap

  • List down your dream destinations in order of their importance and how they each fit into your current estimated budget. The question you need to ask yourself is, which trip easily works for me now?
  • Identify your biggest hindrances and purpose to deal with them.
  • Free up your calendar to make time away from work and parenting. Preparing in advance makes it easier to balance your time.
  • By now, your travel goals should be clear, so get ready to begin your adventures.

Maximize on your Save-cation

But just before you begin, do you have finances set aside for this? Have you been saving up for your travel adventures? You don’t need a fortune to start travelling but you require some cash for your accommodation, transport, food, and any other necessary luxuries that you feel like indulging in. Remember what matters at this point is making the first step without necessarily having to break the bank. Therefore, if you didn’t previously have some savings for your travel plans, no need to worry. There’s always a first time for everything. Luckily, yours is now.

From experience, one of the smartest ways to save for your travel goals is by opening a vacation fund where you can tuck away some Benjamins within a set period. Depending on our set priorities above, the fund can run for as long as you intend to embark on your first journey and can continue running for future expenditure. Having a dedicated savings account purposely for your vacations allows you to be ever prepared even for that abrupt weekend getaway.

Depositing discipline is highly crucial in this case, therefore, if you are the kind to procrastinate or forget your deposits, set up an automatic bank transfer to your dedicated account. This can be daily, weekly, or every payday depending on the percentage you decide to set aside. For easy and reliable access of your money anywhere in the world, make sure to have a credit card and an online account that will also enable seamless online payments for your bookings. Some financial service providers have a plan for Save-cations, so make sure to inform your bank that the new account is a vacation fund to make the most of any deal they may have in place.

Other means of saving for your vacation can include cutting down on your unnecessary luxuries during the period you have set for yourself. Little sacrifices that will come in handy in giving you that dream vacation. Ask yourself whether you really, really need to purchase that extra pair of shoes or dress. Do you have to eat out this weekend or is it cheaper to stay in and make yourself your favorite meal? When it comes to saving with a purpose, every coin channeled to your vacation fund matters and so is every sacrifice you make. This also includes monies that are not part of your regular income; your annual bonus, money from a tip, birthday gift cash from your family members and friends, all can greatly enhance your account. Tighten the belt and see it pays off.

Recap

  • Open a vacation fund towards your travel goals.
  • Set up an automatic bank transfer to your dedicated account to ensure you do not forget to deposit.
  • Have a credit card and/or an online account to access your funds anywhere in the world.
  • Little sacrifices including cutting down on unessential spending will boost your vacation fund.

Shop for discounts and deals

It seems like every travel service provider – from airlines to accommodation facilities and travel agents – have packages, deals, and discounts for every occasion. Good thing is, if not an internal promotion campaign, it is to celebrate holidays or special days like Valentine’s, Mothers’ and Fathers’ days among others. And don’t they happen all the time? Remember, your goal is to make the most out of the discounts to not deplete your savings in just one vacation. For instance, Jumia Travel, an online travel agent in Kenya and Africa offers hotel discounts every quite often, including a weekly deal known as Dream Deals running from every Wednesday through the weekend. Notably, the company also has unique resident rates for African travelers, meant to encourage domestic travel, all these from this and other travel organizations at your disposal.

Besides, remember insisting on having a credit card earlier? It will be worth your weight in gold when it comes to getting credit card miles. Rather than chasing those airline miles, which seam to devalue every other day for instance, use your credit card points to redeem travel purchases or get a refund worth the value of your accumulated points. How about that? This also goes for hotels with customized loyalty programs that can especially be valuable if you are a returning customer.

Recap

  • Do your research before making any airline, hotel, or package booking.
  • Compare prices and go for the cheapest yet valuable deal.
  • Sign up for loyalty programs and redeem points whenever need be.
  • You will be surprised just how much you can save with shopping for discounts and deals.

Rein in your expenses

We are so far on course, but one thing that would unquestionably get us off is not keeping an eye on the balances and bank statements during and after the trips. A sure bet on tracking your expenditure is first to budget according to your travel needs and goals. Accommodation, transport, food, entertainment, and emergencies; note down how much you expect to spend on each depending on how much you have in your vacation fund.

With this, it will be much easier to sit back once you’re back from your trip and track your real expenditure. Did you stick to the budget, underspent, or overspent? In case of the latter, which area did you overspend and how do you avoid it next time? Did you go on a self-destructive shopping spree for everyone in the neighborhood? These are some of the post-vacation hard questions that you must highlight to streamline your spending next time. Most importantly, for whatever necessity you might have that is unrelated to travel, KEEP OFF YOUR VACATION FUND!

Recap

  • Budget for your trip before you embark on your journey and stick to it.
  • Track your post-travel real expenses every time.
  • In case of overspending, acknowledge it and take appropriate measure to avoid the same during your next trip.
  • Do not use your vacation funds on other travel unrelated wants.

Consider travel insurance

One of the most ingenious ways to avoid travel finance-related stress is by having travel insurance. Unfortunately, few people know about this type of cover, and therefore give less consideration to it. A travel insurance is intended to cover travel related losses such as flight accidents, lost luggage, medical expenses, and trip cancellation just to mention a few. Why save so devotedly, embark on your most anticipated journey, only to have all your sparks die due to an unexpected misfortune? The answer? Consider taking affordable travel insurance, let your hair down and enjoy your holiday.

You have finally accomplished your travel goals that we set at the beginning. You liked the entire experience and you can’t wait for your next expedition. So, do not stop your savings cycle here. START ALL OVER AGAIN, and make it a habit!    

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