This time of year, the interwebs are flooded with resolutions. Everyone wants to lose weight, save money and TRAVEL MORE, which is obviously my personal favorite.
However, most people (mistakenly) think they don't have the money to travel.
It's not a question of money, its a question of priorities.
Don't worry, this isn't another article about skipping your daily latte or never eating out again. I would never. But I do think establishing priorities is important. You have to decide where your dollars go.
Ask yourself: "Would I rather have a house full of stuff or a passport full of stamps? Would I rather have a new iPhone or a round trip ticket to Europe? Do I really need to eat out or could I save that money for a meal on the beach?"
From me to you, here are my own tried-and-true favorite ways to budget for travel.
1. Have a Plan: This one comes straight from my financial advisor, Katie Waters at Stable Waters Financial. Each year, I decide which trips I want to take and how much they will cost. I take that total amount, then divide by 24 (the number of paychecks I get each year). Each pay period, I automatically transfer that amount to a separate travel checking account. The funds are there when I see a good sale or want to place a deposit on a trip. Easy, automatic, simple.
2. Automate Your Savings: In addition to the savings above, trick yourself into saving more! To do this, I use an app called Digit. Every few days, Digit automatically transfers a few dollars into that same travel account. It happens automatically and I don't even miss it. You can direct the app to save more or save less based on your preferences. This year, I saved over $500 with Digit alone. That's a round trip plane ticket!
3. Save Your Singles: I have a weird little rule for myself: I never spend single dollar bills. All of my one dollar bills go into a piggy bank on my bookshelf. This year, those singles were tip money during our Bahamas Cruise. Happy Bartenders = Happy Travelers.
4. Save "Found" Money: For 15 years, advertising has been my 'day job,' mostly on the buying side. This means I negotiate pricing for my clients every single day. If you take one thing from this post, take this: Every single thing in life is negotiable.
Think you're paying too much for cable/cell phone/internet? Call them up and ask for a better deal. Once or twice a year, I spend 15 minutes on the phone and ask them to lower my rate. Nine times out of ten, it works. That "savings" is now found money that I redirect to my travel account. It can take a little bit of work, but it can also pay off big!
5. Play "This or That:" For every purchase, I consider what I could buy with that money instead. A $50 dinner could be several days of street food in the Caribbean. A $200 purse is a hotel room. A new $1,000 TV is a cruise!
If your priority is to travel, you probably have the money, it's just sitting in STUFF.
Living in New York taught me that stuff and space drag us down. I have aimed to simplify my life, redirecting those dollars into things and places that really matter to me.
There is an often repeated quote amongst those in the travel industry. It says "Travel is the only thing you can buy that will make you richer." Prioritizing your dollars for experiences -- not things-- can help you earn dividends in memories.
A version of this post first appeared on Alpaca Your Bags Travel Blog