Don’t Let Travel Sidetrack Your Other Financial Goals

Many people enjoy traveling to new places. They enjoy experiencing new things. But some people don’t. They may opt to go to places they know well. They visit them regularly as their ‘vacation spot’. Still others enjoy traveling to see friends or family. Most of us have a combination of these types of travel.

No matter how far away or for how long, travel allows us to break out of our routine. To step out of our day – to – day existence. To view our lives from a distance. It can be therapeutic. It can be heart breaking. It’s a chance to recharge. We usually return to our life with new clarity or new energy. Sometimes we return having made a clear decision on a ‘next step’ in our lives that we now have the courage to take.

And so, travel can definitely be it’s own reward. But that sure doesn’t change the fact that it can be a budget buster, does it? If you’ve ever felt ‘sticker shock’ after a trip, you are in good company.

“I spent way more than I meant to, ugh!” That is what almost everyone at one point or another has felt after a trip. It doesn’t mean no solution exists to mitigate that financial hangover from happening with future trips.

The key to being present when you travel instead of being stressed out at the costs?

Plan. Prepare. Anticipate. Well in advance. Travel is not the time to be financially impulsive if you truly want to stay present and in the moment on your trip.

It’s fair to say that accommodation tends to be more expensive than almost any other category of travel. Sure, air fare can cost a bit. Renting a car too. If you are a foodie, meals out can tally up fast. Liquor really gets the cost odometer going and before you know it…bam! You spent way, way more on your trip than you intended to.

So, where to start? How to keep this from happening?

Get brutally honest with yourself: What can you truly afford to spend? Is the amount you are thinking of jeopardizing any of your financial goals? Do you have any big costs coming up that you have not accounted for?

An approach that works for many? An annual travel budget. Once you’ve spent it? That’s it for the year. Trips that had been considered for rest of the year? Postponed to future years. Harsh, but that’s how to make it work and how to train yourself to plan well.

It’s equally critical to discuss expectations with the people you are traveling with. What activities do they want to do? How much do those activities cost? Are there options in case it turns out that those activities are too expensive or not available?

An approach that works for many people while they are on their trip is to take 15 minutes each day and consider their spending. Are they spending the amount they thought they would? More? If more, are there any ways to pull back a bit so the trip can stay enjoyable and not become financially stressful?

Having a strategy well, well in advance of any trip and discussing expectations translates into a trip fondly remembered. There are so many expenses to any trip that it can become a runaway train very quickly. They add quickly, starting the minute you walk out the door and into the Uber taking you to the airport.

Having an annual travel budget, discussing expectations well in advance, and limiting impulsive purchases/decisions on the trip ensure that you will enjoy yourself and that you will bring back experiences that will last a lifetime without sabotaging the rest of your goals.

And that, indeed, is money well spent.