You think the price of international travel is too expensive? Think again. Here are a few ways I save up for trips to Central America in less than six months. I follow a basic strategy of cutting costs at home in five areas to fund a 10-day trip. I also map out a budget to help identify how much I will need to save.
#1 – Save for Meals by Eating Out Less
Take a look at how much you spend per month on restaurants, including coffee shops and happy hours. It’s a lot cheaper to buy food and cook at home, so when I’m saving up for a trip, I limit my spending on restaurants almost entirely. If I budget a generous $200 for food, skipping just one dinner out a week in Los Angeles adds up to more than enough to cover meals abroad.
#2 – Find Free Entertainment at Home
To cover tours and activities on my trip, I save money by finding free things to do for a few months before departure. I watch movies on Hulu or Netflix instead of in theaters, and go for hikes and to free events around my neighborhood to reach a savings of $250 budgeted for vacation entertainment.
#3 – Cut Down on Transportation Expenses
I try to budget $300 for transportation in the destination country such as taxis, buses, ferries. I use the good old-fashioned method of walking or biking wherever possible to reduce gas expenditures for a savings of roughly $75 a month.
#4 – Hold Off on the Expensive Pair of Shoes
Although I’m not big on buying souvenirs, there are always those extra things I want to bring home for a friend or relative. Simply resisting the purchase of a new outfit or expensive pair of shoes over a few months leaves me with a nice little $100 dollars to spend for miscellaneous items while I’m traveling.
#5 – Save for Airfare
I usually set aside $200 per month directly from my income since airfare to most Central American countries from the U.S. averages around $500-$600. If you can manage this, you’ll easily be able to cover airfare in about 3-4 months. Airfare will likely be your biggest expense, and there’s no way around it unless you have frequent flyer miles to burn or a best friend that works for an airline to mooch off of, you’ll have to bite the bullet and take that chunk out of your paycheck, but it will be well worth it in the end.