I’m currently getting ready for my first trip outside of Switzerland since the pandemic began. Keeping on track with all the new measures for each country as well as sudden changes has been slightly exhausting. I learnt that you are not fully immunised with the vaccine until 14 days after your second dose which means that a PCR test may be needed depending on where you are travelling to. I know that the cost of these tests are expensive and have influenced some people to stay at home. I think these next few months are going to be a strange time to budget for travel as there are additional costs. It’s going to be very weird being on a plane (with a mask), seeing friends from different countries gathering together and doing group activities again. I know that outside is progressively opening up for everyone but that doesn’t mean that you have to be ready to open yourself to the world at their speed. Take this time to plan your future trips, save money and budgeting costs for when you feel comfortable to travel again. Here are some of the ways that I have been saving money whilst planning for travel in 2021.
Create A Travel Fund
Create a separate account for travel-related purposes. It can be a savings account with an existing bank or a new bank, a money pot with Monzo or anything that works for you. I used to have a bad habit with saving a couple of years ago as I was saving for no reason and kept on dipping into these accounts whenever I ran out of money in my main account. Having certain accounts such as a travel fund gave my saving goals a purpose and pushed me to become accountable towards putting money aside for travel experiences. Your travel fund can help cover flights, accommodation costs, unexpected costs such as PCR tests, spending money on your trip etc. Whatever you want it to cover, it can cover.
You don’t have to save the same amount each month. I was able to save the same amount last year but finances change for everyone and it is an individual thing. Get into the habit of paying yourself first before you start paying your bills. It doesn’t matter how small or large the amount but putting something away makes a huge difference to your fund. If you have a card for that account, hide it away so you are not tempted to spend from it if it isn’t travel-related and/or get into the habit of pretending that the money in that account is untouchable. Whatever method works for you, stick to it. Having a separate fund like this has made planning for future holidays and experience much easier.
Be Flexible With Dates
Being flexible with your travel dates is one of the best ways to save money on flight costs. Most people choose their holidays first, then the dates, and then look for flights that are rigid to fit their chosen dates. I have been guilty of this in the past and I have also realised that it has cost me more money in the long run because I’m not willing to be flexible with my dates. Flexibility is king when it comes to travel. If getting a cheap flight is your priority, check for available prices via Google Flights, Sky Scanner, Secret Flying, Hopper to various locations around the world. Next, select dates that you want to have the cheap fares available for. One thing that I find very helpful with these sites is that they let you know if flying in and out on another date is cheaper.
Make It An Inconvenience
The best approach that I have learnt with travelling is inconveniencing yourself. I know that doesn’t sounds appealing but it is another way to save money on flights. Most people don’t want to fly mid-week, take an early flight, a late flight or add destinations in between the departure and arrival point because it is inconvenient. Flying first thing in the morning has always saved me a lot of money from flights as well as flying in the night before. If you are doing international flights from the other side of the Atlantic such as the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil etc. I recommend to look for cheap flights across the Atlantic and then grab cheap local flights to your destination. Flying within Europe is a lot more cheaper than flying directly within the United States. You can also look into other modes of transport such as Eurrail train tickets to get to your destination and add other destinations in between.
I’d like to add a caveat for this period: it may be better to travel directly to your destination to avoid quarantine measures and extra costs instead of travelling to different destinations in between. I would recommend checking that as you plan.
Taxes and Bonuses
I know that the first thing I want to do when I get my bonus buy some things that I have wanted and needed for some time. Something that I learnt when I started getting bonuses from work was to save a fraction of it. I try to save at least 50% of my bonuses into my travel fund as soon as it lands into my account. Out of sight, out of mind. The same thing applies to any taxes that I claim back on my tax returns, put what you can away into your travel fund and emergency fund. You are probably wondering why to save more when you already paid yourself at the beginning of the month or when you got paid. Think about your taxes and bonuses as an increased income or another stream of income. Put what you can away every time you get an opportunity to save some extra money. Your travel fund is a fund that is going to need topping up as much as possible especially when you start booking holidays. I’m learning that I need to continuously maintain it if I want to travel with ease in the future.
These are my top tips to save money whilst planning a travel trip. I like to travel a lot and I know that it can be expensive especially if you don’t plan ahead. I understand the financial pain of travelling and the challenges that may come with it. However, it’s about making smart decisions ahead of time for the long run. I hope that these strategies and tips are helpful to you as well as a guide to save up for your dream trip. Let me know in the comments if you have put any of these tips into practice when planning and budgeting for your trips. Also let me know any other tips that you have, I would love for this post to become a resource for you and others.
Until next time,