Last year, nearly 50-percent of Americans didn’t take a single vacation day. Not one. A big reason for this self-abuse is simple: many people don’t have enough money saved up to go on holiday.
But saving enough to travel doesn’t need to involve selling your car, growing all of your food on your windowsill and starting a backyard chicken coop to save on poultry prices. To help you get started with your savings, here are 10 easy, non-threatening tips to save money for your next vacation.
1. Open a travel savings account.
You should probably name this savings account something like “My Travel Fund” or “My Travel Savings Account” or “Don’t You Dare Spend This Money on Booze.” However, here’s the hardest part: actively put money into this account—weekly.
2. Invest in a travel credit card.
How’s a credit card, designed for purchasing, supposed to help you save? Most travel cards, like a Chase Sapphire Preferred, give massive miles bonuses to those who sign up and spend a certain amount within three months. In many cases, simply signing up for the card garners enough miles for a trip. On top of that, spending the allotted dollar amount in the first few months often generates enough miles for a flight to Asia. Make sure to connect the card with expenses you pay normally such as monthly rent, grocery expenses or maybe an investment in a new laptop.
3. Dine in, not out.
The average cost of a brown-bag lunch is around $2.45, while eating out for
lunch is roughly $8.80. That’s $6.35 in savings each day, or $190 per month.
4. Drink less and drink at home.
Your Starbucks morning coffee costs roughly $3. That’s $15 per week or, better yet, $60 per month on coffee alone. Stick to the crappy work coffee, it does the trick. Also, let’s eliminate any post-work drinks because one drink generally turns into four, and it’s a damn sin that a Budweiser can cost $4 in a bar. If you make it through the week without any post-work drinks, reward yourself with a free drink at home. Cutting these bevvies can save you anywhere from $150-$200 each month, depending on your drinking habits.
5. Embrace “O’er the land of the free.”
Every single city offers a multitude of free things to do, whether it’s free movie nights in a park, reading in some public gardens or endlessly shimmying at a free salsa class. Participating in these free activities will help you avoid dropping $20 at the movies or other superfluous spending.
6. Cancel your memberships right now.
The monthly gym membership the magazine subscription (shh, don’t tell Paste) whatever subscription you drunkenly purchased, like a monthly basket of bagels = a lot of money that could be saved for a beachside massage and fruity cocktail on an exotic island.
7. Only pay for what you really need.
If you want cable TV all you need is an Internet connection to stream your shows online. Instant savings. What about your phone plan? It may be hard to believe, but that iPhone is unnecessary. If you really want to save, swap out the smartphone plan—which can cost $100 per month—for a Nokia brick phone which will result in enough savings for two—yes two!—flights from NYC to Norway.
8. Start couponing.
You know that coupon book in front of every supermarket? Use that to your
advantage. Abuse “buy one, get one free” deals on tubes of Aquafresh because that’s $3 toward an African Safari. These savings can easily accumulate to $10 or more each shopping trip, which, in the matter of a month can equal $40 saved toward a trip. Also, buy in bulk. Don’t think you’ll ever need a 30-pound Costco bag of rice and beans for $12? Well, guess who now has a month supply of burritos?
9. Turn off the heating, AC, and electricity.
Fire, fans and candlelight go a long way. Kidding. Sort of. Air conditioning generally costs $130 per month to operate, but a fan keeps you cool for $1.20 per month. That difference speaks for itself. Regarding heat and electricity, this sounds obvious, but not enough people actually do it: Turn down your heat and use more blankets and turn off your lights when you’re not using them.
10. Sell some stuff.
TV, car, dresser, old sound system, that penguin humidifier your grandma got you for your birthday—anything. Let Craigslist become your friend and reap in the dollars saved for travel.
Tommy writes for Paste Magazine, jokes and probably quotes too much Elton John.