Have you got wanderlust? Or is there somewhere you really want to go, a place you want to visit or a memory you want to make in a far off distant country? If you're anything like me, you'll have a list of places - near and far - that you want to visit. But the biggest thing that stops people from actually taking that trip is the money. Lets be realistic, how many of us are fortunate enough to have bags of spare cash laying around? Nope, the majority of us will have to work hard to make those dream trips come true.
If you'd have told me last year that I would actually have taken the initiative and booked my dream trip - I wouldn't have believed you. But as you guys know, I did. And I'm off to New York in August - the place at the top of my Bucket List. However actually booking the trip turned out to be the easy bit, affording it has been the more tricky part - and it's required some serious techniques to be able to pay off the monthly instalments. So, I thought I'd put together a little guide to help those of you who think you can't afford to take that trip... You can, and here's how...
1. Book in advance.
There's a lot to be said for spontaneity when it comes to going away, but if you want the most cost effective trip then booking in advance is key. Also, if you can, book when travel providers have sales. I booked my trip to New York in the January sales and saved several hundred pounds. The plus of booking in advance also means that you have longer to pay for the trip, and you can stretch the payments over as many months as you need. Breaking it down in to smaller, more affordable chunks rather than putting yourself under huge financial pressure in the few months before you go.
2. Set yourself a little challenge.
One thing I've really enjoyed and also found hugely helpful at paying off my trip, is a little substitute-style challenge that I set myself. I like to order take-away when I've had a long day, or if my mood has changed and what I've planned for dinner doesn't appeal, I'll usually stop and just buy something else on the way home. The same happens with little treats and splurge purchases that I don't strictly need. Now what I do is when I manage to refrain from ordering take-away or treating myself, I log on to my travel providers website and pay that exact amount off my trip. That £14.99 Dominos pizza? That's £14.99 off my trip. It means I've got lots of small payments showing on my account, but who cares? I'm edging closer to paying off my trip without even really doing anything different.
3. Packed lunch time.
One thing I'm really bad at is preparing lunch for when I'm at work. I am not a morning person so the thought of making lunch before I go - well, in all honesty it's not going to happen. Now I'm trying to plan my lunch meals well in advance and they're always things that require no prep in the mornings. This means that I don't end up spending £4.50 a day at Subway - which is approximately £100 per month. The same applies for the treats when you pop to the shop midday - no more doughnuts, Costa Coffee etc, instead I use the same principle as above and suddenly going without that Krispy Kreme isn't so hard! It might not be lunches for you - it could be eating out, shopping etc, but whatever it is, plan a way round it, stick to it and use the money you would have spent to pay off your trip.
4. Spare Change.
Every week on a Sunday I empty my purse of all my change - no matter how much is in there, I put it in my piggybank and collect it for spending money in New York. Some weeks there's barely anything, and some weeks (especially if I've been out the night before) it's like hitting the jackpot! ...Except with money that's already yours.
As you get closer to your trip, start thinking about the things you want to do - spend time researching and investing time in finding deals and discounted tickets etc. The same principle applies as when you book the trip itself - booking excursions and attractions in advance means you get a better rate (generally speaking) and if you can't get the better rate in advance, researching will tell you how to get the cheaper tickets when you arrive - so you're fully prepared.
6. Blogging Bonus
If you're a blogger, writer or able to record your visit on any platform, why not approach the tour operator, the restaurants you want to visit or the excursion leaders? Ask them if they work with bloggers and would be interested in collaborating. You never know until you ask, and you might get some extra discount or bonus excursions in exchange for a full review when you get home.
7. Sell, sell, sell!
Having a good old clear out at home is cathartic. But it's also a really easy way to bring in some extra cash for your trip. Between eBay, Gumtree and Depop, there is a platform suitable for all of the things you've hoarded but don't need or want any more. Some things sell better on eBay for example, bigger brands, names that are recognised etc. But Depop is great for finding styles rather than brands, which is great for all the other bits you've acquired. Once you've cleared out the good stuff, don't chuck the rest away! Now it's Car Boot time! Get your friends together and do it as a group and make it a challenge of who makes the most, you'll find it fun and even getting up early on a Sunday morning won't phase you when you could earn an extra bit of moolah for your trip.
Funding a dream trip isn't easy. They wouldn't be called 'dream' trips if they were, now would they? Nothing worth having, ever came easily did it? Paying for your travels will require determination and a long-sighted attitude. Saying no to eating out as much, cutting down your nights out etc is hard, especially when the trip still seems so far away. But with a little bit of firm motivation and monthly goal posts, your dream trip will slowly but surely become a reality - without putting you under major financial pressure.
Where's your dream trip destination?