I’ve taken several overseas trips during the last 10 years and have developed a great system of saving money to finance these adventures. Since I normally refrain from using my credit card, I need to be able to generate enough cash to cover all expenses. International travel, however, is not cheap. Airfare, hotels, meals, and souvenir money adds up! Recently, my wife and I planned a jaunt from the United States to Jamaica where I employed my savings methods to fund the entire trip with cash. Here is how I did it.
Start Saving Early
The best way to save for an international trip is to start early. If I’m planning an overseas vacation, I try to pick dates at least four to six months out to allow myself enough time to accumulate the necessary funds. After extensive research, I usually have a decent idea of how much the entire trip will cost. From there, I simply divide the total cost by the number of paydays until the trip. Voilà, a costly trip reduces to bite-sized chunks. We decided on our Jamaican vacation six months prior to the fly date. This meant setting aside roughly $330 per payday (for me, twice a month) to cover the $4,000 trip–a lot less daunting and a lot easier to manage.
Re-tool Your Budget
The problem with saving for an international trip is how to generate the necessary funds. On a fixed budget, vacation money must replace other planned expenditures. For my Jamaican trip, I needed to decide what to eliminate in order to set aside the extra $330 per payday. For me, any essential debts, such as rent or utilities, were out. My wife and I agreed to cut back on the entertainment portion of our budget, essentially reducing the number of times we dined out, watched a movie, or visited a shopping mall. Large cutbacks in this area, combined with smaller cuts across the board, provided the $330 we needed every two weeks to make our trip a reality.
Lock Your Money Away
Temptation always exists to spend money that you’re trying to save. To avoid this problem, I placed the trip money in a 180-day variable rate CD from my bank. The CD allowed me to contribute at any time, but would charge a hefty penalty to remove money prior to the maturity date. Not only did this platform eliminate the ability to loot my vacation fund, I also earned a higher monthly interest rate than I would have with my regular savings account. At the end of the six months, I simply cashed out my CD and paid for the Jamaican trip. Check with your bank to see if similar short-term savings methods are offered.
Enjoy the Trip!
International travel is costly and often requires a dedicated savings plan to cover all expenses. If you desire to travel outside of the United States for any length of time, research the price tag first and then start saving. You’ll definitely enjoy the experience more if you don’t have to worry about the money.
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