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Fulton Bank
Fulton Bank

How can I afford to travel?

If you’ve been dreaming of sun-drenched beaches, fishing in a cool mountain stream, visiting a national park, exploring a foreign country, or becoming a tourist in your own hometown, you’re probably wondering how much it’s going to impact your wallet. If affording travel also seems like a dream, follow these tips and ideas on how to save for your dream vacation.

1. Save as much as possible

Sounds like a no brainer, right? Unfortunately, many of us have trouble saving due to expenses and paying down debt. But there are many ways you can save for travel and make it fun. One way to kick off your savings is using these top viral challenges.

For example, you can try the envelope challenge which can help you save as much as $5,000 in just 100 days. Simply label 100 envelopes from 1 to 100 and put them into a container (binder, box, whatever works for you). Then, each day for 100 days, choose an envelope. The number of the envelope you choose is the amount of cash you should put inside it. For instance, you'd put $3 inside envelope #3 and $98 inside envelope #98.

Or you can try the 26-Week Money Saving Challenge–a proven approach for those looking to embark on a biweekly savings journey.

Another great approach to saving is to explore a side hustle to save towards your travel goals. From rideshare driver to pet sitter (or walker), you could boost your income based on the time you have available.

2. Start planning early – create your vacation budget

Planning a great vacation can be exciting, but it can also be stressful–especially when you’re trying to determine how much it’s going to cost. You may already have a general ballpark number that you’re comfortable with spending, but taking the time to look at details and research multiple options can pay off in the end.

Check out these tips on how to budget for your next vacation. Potential costs to consider include transportation (airfare, airport parking, car rental, taxis, and gas and tolls), lodging, food and drinks, tours, events, and gifts and souvenirs. Plus, discover ways to save like creating your own meals, signing up for discounts, and timing your vacation for the best prices.

Thinking about getting away for the weekend? Discover these 5 ways to enjoy your weekend getaways and maintain your budget.

3. Create your budget (and set realistic expectations)

Even if your main goal is saving for travel, creating a budget for your finances can improve your overall financial well-being. Follow these strategies and tips to create and stick to a budget. Sticking to a budget can be challenging, but once it becomes a habit, the rewards will be worth it. A budget can help:

  • Provide clarity on your monthly expenses.
  • Pinpoint areas where you may be overspending.
  • Help you tailor spending to your income, so you live within your means.

Saving is an often-overlooked part of budgeting, but you can't leave it out. When you treat savings like a fixed expense, it's much easier to get into and stick with the habit.

There are many ways to budget. The right budget depends on various factors, including your unique personality, how you prefer to visualize your budget, and how much time you want to spend tracking your finances. Some common budgeting methods include:

  • The envelope method: Split your money up into physical or virtual envelopes that represent a spending category, and only let yourself spend until the cash is gone.
  • Zero-sum budgeting: Allocate every dollar of your money so that your income minus your expenses and savings equals zero.
  • Pay yourself first budgeting: Put money aside for savings and debt repayment first, and then spend the rest.

A budget only works when you stick with it. These tips can help you stay on track:

  1. Impose a 24- or 48-hour waiting period for new purchases to curb impulse buys.
  2. Consider switching to cash or debit-only and leaving your credit card at home so you're not tempted to overspend.
  3. Use a budgeting app to conveniently track your expenses everywhere you go.

4. Consider using a credit card strategy

Credit cards can be a useful tool and are an important part of most consumers' financial lives. But deciding which cards to use and how they benefit you can be challenging. If traveling is a priority for you, many cards offer a travel card with reward, cash back opportunities, and protection from fraud and theft.

A credit card can also reduce the need to carry cash while you’re traveling. Explore how to choose the right card for you.

While credit can open a lot of opportunities and help you build a strong credit history, it’s important to do a little homework before you apply and understand how your credit card works. If you’re looking for travel rewards to support your wanderlust, make sure that they don’t expire after a certain timeframe or that you’re not limited by blackout dates.

Once you have a credit card, it’s important to review your credit report on a regular basis (at least annually) to improve your credit, spot signs of identity theft, and dispute errors that may negatively affect your credit score. Especially if you’re using your card to travel abroad, you may be more susceptible to fraud, making it even more important to check your credit report every year.

5. Protect yourself while traveling.

There are many dos and don’ts when comes to avoid scams and fraud while traveling. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were over 54,000 cases of credit card fraud related to consumers on vacation.

You can save yourself money and a lot of aggravation by taking simple steps that only take a few minutes but will have a big payoff:

  • Set up alerts on your mobile banking app
  • Notify your credit card company that you’re traveling
  • Don’t use unsecured wifi

If travel is your passion or you have a bucket list of special places to visit, you can make it happen. Start by determining your goals, creating a savings and budgeting plan, and using credit to your advantage to make it happen. Bon voyage.


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