I love traveling. Going somewhere new, experiencing the place, trying the food, meeting the people, it’s just one of the coolest experiences you can have. If you love traveling, you know this as well. Even if you don’t love traveling to new places, taking a vacation to a familiar spot can be incredibly relaxing.
It can also be expensive, stressful, and generally not worth the effort or the consequences, if you do it wrong. I’m sure you’ve heard of someone financing a trip they couldn’t afford on a credit card. They might still be paying it off years later, and by now it’s cost them way more than just a few tickets.
There are ways to travel cheap. There are whole industries built around it, actually. That’s not what this post is about. Sometimes, it’s just nice to travel without worrying about the budget. If you’ve never taken a trip where it practically doesn’t matter what you spend, you’re missing out on how truly relaxing a vacation can be.
The question is, how do you do it? The answer, unfortunately, is boring. You save for it. Like pretty much everything except your house, if you can’t pay cash for it, you can’t afford it.
That doesn’t mean you can never take a nice trip. Far from it. I just shared a post last week about paying yourself first. The entire point of that post is to make saving a priority. Pay yourself first, so that down the road, when you want to do something like take an awesome vacation, you can do it without stress.
I’ve traveled both ways, with enough money saved up, and without. It’s way more fun to know you have enough money in the bank to have a really great time.
How much is enough? That depends on you, what kind of trip you want to take, where you’re going, and how much you realistically expect to spend. You can travel to the French Riviera and spend thousands of dollars every day on hotels and meals. If you can afford that, great, that’s a trip you can take. You can also travel to the French Riviera and spend a few hundred dollars a day on hotels and meals. There are different ways to travel to the same places.
Traveling without stressing about a budget does not mean you have carte blanche to spend whatever you want, whenever you want. You still need to be an adult. You need to know in advance how much you can afford, and you need to be content with that amount. If you don’t think you can enjoy the trip with what you have saved up, then you need to save a little more and take the trip later.
Beyond saving cash, there are other ways to make traveling cheaper. Credit card bonuses and rewards are certainly a popular option. My wife and I did this in 2016 when we spent three weeks in Europe, hopping around to different countries, staying at four and five star hotels the entire time. We spent about $5,000 for the entire trip, including airfare, hotels, meals, and activities. I’ll do another post at some point about our trip, and about credit card bonuses and rewards.
The point of today’s post is to encourage you to pay cash for your vacations. Make sure you have enough money up front, then travel. I promise, you’ll have a way better time.