With the New Year barrelling down on us, it is likely that many of you are thinking about what 2020 will hold, what your resolutions and goals will be, and how you will achieve them. If your heart is set on finally taking THAT trip…fear not, I am going to walk you through strategizing your wanderlust.
Tip 1: Select realistic destinations
If your priorities include paying off student loans or moving across the country, planning a trip to New Zealand is probably unrealistic. Be honest with yourself, and don’t go into debt just to get cool pics for Instagram. A good place to start is with the 2:1 rule…2 small, and 1 large trip . What is considered small or large depends on you and your budget. To me, a small trip is a weekend getaway or camping – coming in at less than $400, and a large trip is 7+ days and/or $1000+. You might decide you would rather take 5 smaller trips versus 1 big and 2 small – do what’s best for you and your wallet!
Tip 2: Set a manageable budget
If you want to splurge on one large vacation for the entire year, GO FOR IT! But if you get antsy every few months, make sure you spread out your leisure spending so that you aren’t maxed out on travel opportunities halfway through the year. Set your budget and then split it into thirds. Let’s say your max budget is $1200 – expect to pay about $400 on airfare/transportation, $400 on lodging, and $400 on food and excursions. Obviously those percentages can fluctuate depending on what is more important to you. Splitting your budget into thirds can be helpful in choosing an affordable destination and setting priorities when traveling. If staying in a luxurious hotel is a priority, you will want to factor in more than a third of your budget for lodging. If you don’t mind staying in hostels or airbnbs, that opens up opportunities to spend more on flights!
Tip 3: Get the most bang for your hard-earned buck
Do your research and shop around, this takes time. Looking into airports that are a bit of a drive can save hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars. For example: Cleveland Hopkins International is the closest airport to me, and for an international trip I have planned in March of 2020 – I saved $800 on my flights by booking out of Toronto instead of Cleveland. Though I saved a chunk of money on my flights…I then had to factor gas, parking costs, and 3.5 hours of driving back in to my budget and itinerary. Also, look into the best times to visit your selected destination – this is all personal preference. If you are seeking a specific event, type of weather, or tourist density – research the right time of year to experience what you’re looking for.
**Keep in mind that if you’re traveling on a budget, those three tips will be used concurrently and you will likely cycle through the planning process a few times**
I’m going to share with you what my personal travel goals are for 2020, utilizing the aforementioned tips. Remember, Ben and I are currently building a home, he is in school, I work every other weekend, and we have 3 dogs now (I know, we’re crazy)…
That international trip in March which I briefly touched on above, is to Iceland! Planning started way back in August of this year. We chose Iceland because it is the off-season for tourism, there is a very high probability of seeing the Northern Lights, we don’t really enjoy hot weather, and March is when Ben is on spring break. We have our flights, apartment, rental car, food estimation, and 4 excursions booked for about $1400/person. Later into the spring and summer we are hoping to go camping in the Smoky Mountains at least once…then in the fall we plan to head up to Maine for the foliage change and some lobster rolls. Camping is always fun for us as we love the outdoors – it is easy to pack and plan for, we can take all of our dogs, it clears the mind, and it is CHEAP. Also, Rebecca and I have a potential trip to Europe in the works for August 2020 with Ben and Gabriel, which we’re estimating to be about another $1400-1600/person. So, assuming the “worst”, I will spend anywhere from $3000-3500 on trips next year – which can seem a little daunting. But the two large trips will be about 5 months apart, giving me plenty of time to save up in the interim (budgeting in your daily life, as well as when planning for trips is SO important). With some smaller camping trips sprinkled here and there, I know my itch to roam will be satisfied and my bank accounts won’t suffer.
Traveling throughout the year isn’t just for the super wealthy, the social media influencers, the single, or the retired…if you are a thrifty planner with realistic goals – you can do it too! Keep an eye out next week for Rebecca’s post which will explore ways you can cut unnecessary spending in your life to save for the trips you’ve been dreaming of!