Times are tight and for a lot of people that means cutting back on luxuries, postponing that big purchase and struggling to make ends meet. In the face of adversity it’s easy to get discouraged, lower your head and give up hope about taking your dream vacation.
Not so fast!
Here at Auto Europe we don’t see travel as a luxury – we see it as an opportunity. A trip to Europe is an investment in yourself, in your family, in your relationships and in your life. Travel is an opportunity to make memories that will nourish and sustain you for years. Seeing new places and experiencing new cultures buoys the human spirit, strengthens one’s sense of self and stimulates the mind.
As a child you were told not to give up on your dreams and in that spirit we’re here to tell you that your dream vacation is worth fighting for. More than that: it’s within reach. Make the decision today to prioritize saving for your dream vacation and you can be sipping espresso in Paris or swirling wine beside a sun-dappled Tuscan vineyard within a year.
To help you get started we’ve assembled the following list: 8 simple ways to save for your dream vacation. Some of these hurdles are financial; most require mental adjustments. Let’s begin:
1. Make a Realistic, Incremental Plan
One of the reasons people don’t achieve their goals is because they focus on the end result rather than measuring their progress in small, quantifiable steps. This is true of any goal: if you decide to lose 50 pounds you could starve yourself or you could work out like a demon. Either way you’re likely to burn out quickly. The best approach is to take sustainable steps (i.e. commit to a 30 minute walk in the morning, drink more water throughout the day and choose a salad for lunch). By making the choice to take small, achievable steps each day you set yourself up to succeed.
2. Do Your Homework
Do some research early-on so you have a sense of what your flight, rental car and hotel might cost. You can do this by calling a travel agent or by calling Auto Europe toll-free at 1-888-223-5555. One of our agents will be happy to provide this information over the phone. Don’t be overwhelmed when you hear this estimate – write the information down and set it aside, returning to this quote when you take stock of your finances each month to measure your progress.
3. Designate a High-Yield Savings Account
Many online banking apps allow you to name your accounts. Designating a specific account as “Dream Vacation to London” will encourage you to save (and not to touch those savings). At the end of each month, after you pay your bills, take stock of your finances and if you have money left over skip that shopping trip or dinner out, opting to deposit your excess money into this account.
It’s also a good idea to set up a jar for loose change and extra dollar bills in your house. Instead of losing all of your pennies behind the bureau or between the seats of your car, drop loose change into this jar and deposit it in your dream vacation account at the end of each month. You’ll be surprised how quickly this extra money adds up!
4. Take Advantage of Free Budget Tools
Many people don’t keep a monthly budget. The good news is that whether you’re a budget newbie or a seasoned pro, the digital age provides numerous free apps which allow you to easily track your spending. The smartphone app, Mint, for example, is a free all-in-one tool which tracks expenses and manages your account balances. This app will even send you a reminder when bills are due and provides custom snapshots of your spending via weekly, monthly and annual expense breakdowns. These are quickly digested thanks to easy-to read graphics.
If you aren’t used to keeping a budget you’ll probably be surprised by how much you spend each month on items you don’t think about (gourmet coffee, automatically renewing subscriptions, dining out, etc.). Once you see these expenses dwarfing your monthly vacation savings it will be easy to change your spending priorities.
5. Find Alternative Sources of Income
There are lots of ways to drum up some extra cash and you may be sitting on a goldmine without realizing it. Over time we all accumulate items which we no longer need or use. Selling old furniture, little-used household items or outgrown clothes can create some instant cashflow. Whether you decide to hold a lawn or garage sale or list these items on Ebay or Craigslist – taking stock of your possessions and doing a little spring cleaning will not only free up space in your home but it will allow you to deposit a chunk of change into your newly established dream vacation savings account.
If you’re planning a family vacation you can also get your kids involved. Encourage them to pitch in by mowing lawns, raking leaves, shoveling snow or babysitting in your neighborhood. This is a great way to teach your kids how rewarding hard work can be.
6. Save Every Day
Setting a budget for the first time often provides sticker-shock. Many people hemorrhage money weekly on small-ticket items that they don’t think twice about purchasing. Whether it’s a $5 latte, a $50 dinner out, a $2 soda or a $25 fitness class … these expenses add up in a hurry. Once you make the decision to eliminate most of these expenses you’ll find that you have hundreds of extra dollars in your pocket. Think about it like this: saving $200 a month by cutting out these convenient little splurges will save you $2400 per year … money that will go a long way toward funding your dream vacation.
7. Be Realistic
While you’re saving every day for your dream vacation it’s important to remember that you’re only human and that you and your family don’t have to sacrifice every luxury. Instead of paying an exorbitant price for movie tickets you might treat yourself to a classy evening out, attending a free poetry reading at your library or local bookstore. Instead of buying tickets to a big league baseball game you could take your kids to see your favorite club’s minor league team at a fraction of the cost. You don’t have to become a shut-in to save for a big trip – make realistic sacrifices and fiscally responsible substitutions. Not only will you save money, you’ll probably discover a level of engagement with your community that you’ve never had before.
8. Stay Inspired
One key to achieving your goals is to maintain your enthusiasm and remember why all of the small sacrifices and lifestyle adjustments you’ve made are worthwhile. Planning a trip to France? Stay motivated by enrolling in a French cooking or language class. Learning a new language or gaining an appreciation for a region’s culinary history and techniques will fuel your excitement about your trip (and deepen your enjoyment when you get there). A less expensive way to fuel your inspiration is through social media. Follow @Auto_Europe on Twitter or Like us on Facebook for travel tips and exciting profiles of must-see destinations around the globe. Who knows … you might just stumble upon an idea for your next dream vacation.
Wherever you’re headed, Auto Europe is committed to helping you get there. We provide award-winning service to more than 8,000 locations around the world and we’re committed to staying on the forefront of green travel and automobile innovation. Remember that wherever you are in your planning process we’re here to help toll-free 24/7 at 1-888-223-5555.
If this article has inspired you to save for your dream vacation (or if we forgot to mention a savings strategy that has worked for you) we’d love to hear about it! Please let us know where you’re planning to travel next in the comments section below or via social media.