One of my dearest and closest friends, Kristin, is a travel agent and she has shared such wisdom with me in so many areas. Obviously I love my friend for a lot of reasons, but one area in particular that she is sooooo knowledgeable in… is travel. She is a travel agent and she and her family travel a lot, but they are also really good stewards of their money. They don’t go into debt to travel and experience life and the world… So, I asked if I could share this post with y’all that she wrote! One of the areas I know she is really passionate about is helping people learn how to come up with a travel budget so you can also experience the world!
Kristin has actually guest posted on this blog before back in 2014… you can read that post here:Tips For Saving Money While Traveling & Why You Should Use a Travel Agent
Anyway! This post is AWESOME, so be sure to give Kristin some love!
How to Make a Travel Budget
“You can always make money, you can’t always make memories.”
I’m not entirely sure this quote is true, but it loosely supports my point, so I’m using it.
A lot of people claim they don’t travel because they don’t have the money for it. In some cases, this may be true. But in other cases, it may just be that they think they don’t have the money for it. It’s possible that if that person made traveling a priority, they’d come up with the money.
My family isn’t poor, but we also are far from rich. We are basically the definition of middle class. However, we’ve placed a high priority on traveling. As a result, we’ve sacrificed in other areas.
We eat the vast majority of meals at home as opposed to going out to restaurants. When we do go to restaurants, it’s frequently Moe’s or Jersey Mike’s. Trips to the luxurious Chili’s are reserved for date nights only, so we don’t have to pay for the kids there. (And date nights are reserved for weekends that the kids are at the grandparent’s, so we don’t have to pay for a babysitter.)
My husband and I still wear some of the same clothes we wore in college (truth be told, there are probably a few high school t-shirts in the drawers, too). They may not fit quite as well as they used to, or look quite as pristine as they once did, but they’re still functional. We also both drive cars that were manufactured over a decade ago. Do they look nice? Not really. Do they have a USB port or Bluetooth capabilities or a rear back up camera? No. But they get us from point A to point B.
These sacrifices have allowed us to see Italy, Jamaica, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, the Bahamas, Orlando (multiple times), DC, NYC, Phoenix, Miami, and other fun places over the past few years, despite having a modest income.
So, besides wearing jeans with holes while we drive our beat up clunker to Bojangles, how do we manage to scrounge up our travel budget?
We hustle. You know me as a travel agent, but my kids know me as their stay-at-home Mom. That’s my full time job, while being a travel agent is…well, basically a second full time job. Meanwhile, my husband has a full time job as an accountant for a local company and then comes home and does bookkeeping for a few clients on the side. There’s a fine line between working extra and working too much, but we think we keep our lives fairly well balanced despite managing “multiple income streams,” as he calls them.
We live on one income. Despite a couple of side jobs, we pay for all of our day-to-day life expenses out of just my husband’s salary. This frees up the cash generated from the side jobs to be used for our travel budget (and, in the interest of full disclosure, additional retirement savings).
We save monthly. Even though we allocate a large chunk of our side job income to our travel budget, we also set aside a little part of my husband’s salary each month for travel. It’s not much, but we were saving a little bit each month for travel before I became a travel agent, and continued doing that even once we started having the additional income. (Side note, we set aside money each month for lots of things – gifts, a new vehicle, etc. It makes Christmas time a lot less stressful when we’ve saved for it all year long.)
We are still careful with our spending while traveling. It’s all too easy to turn a $3,000 trip into a $4,000 trip by letting your guard down and being careless with your decisions. We don’t want to count every penny as it goes out while we travel (it’s a vacation, after all), but we do still try to make economical decisions leading up to and on the trip. We drive to Disney whenever we go. Sure, it’s 10 hours in the car with two kids, but it saves us around $400 round trip. We each take the allowed amount of wine onto cruise ships. We can either pay $10 for a bottle and bring it with us or pay $10 per glass on board the boat. (Also, a $10 bottle of wine is a “splurge” for us.)
Everyone’s situation, personality, and values are different. You may make less money than our family. You may make more money than our family. You may be willing to sacrifice your travel budget in exchange for having a nicer wardrobe or newer car or for not having a job on the side, all of which are perfectly reasonable decisions. These are just the choices we’ve made as a family that have allowed us to travel as much as possible, and I hope that sharing them allows you to do the same if that’s a goal of yours.
ABOUT KRISTIN: Kristin is a former teacher who left teaching after the birth of her second child to spend more time with her children. Her love of Disney led to a door opening into the travel world and she has built her travel business over the last five years. What began as mostly work with Disney has expanded to include assisting clients with travel of all types- cruises, multi-generational trips, honeymoons, destination weddings, anniversary trips. She has booked travel to Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Alaska, Yellowstone, and more.
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