Dreaming of watching wildebeest roam from a luxurious mobile camp in Serengeti or hiking the Inca Trail in Machu Picchu? How about a month-long sabbatical in Boracay or Palawan? So are we! The good news: It’s not impossible. Saving up for your dream vacation can happen if you prepare for it ahead of time. Here are a few tips to help you.
1. Pick a place and commit to it.
Travel plans can change, but if you keep switching from one dream destination to the next, you won’t be able to start anything. Before you know it, it will have been a year and you’re nowhere closer to your goal.
2. Come up with a budget plan.
Do your research. How much would your whole trip cost? “Consider all of your expenses: travel, food, overnight accommodations, shopping, souvenirs and activities,” says financial expert Dave Ramsey. “Remember that travel includes how you’ll reach your destination and how you’ll get around once you arrive. Food includes meals, snacks, drinks and dessert.” Also a must-have: your travel contingency fund.
3. Subscribe to travel search sites.
Even though you already have a ballpark figure for how much your flight would cost, you should still be on the lookout for cheap promos whenever you can. “I visit Cebu Pacific’s website every morning to see if there’s a seat sale,” says Andrea, 28. “My friends and I would also book our flights one at a time because that’s how you get the really cheap deals.” Most airlines have mailing lists you can join, but it’s also a good idea to subscribe to flight monitoring websites like Skyscanner.4. Set up a travel fund.
“If you don’t already, open up a dedicated savings account for your vacation plans that is separate from your regular savings account, and contribute to both regularly,” says Justine Rivero of Forbes.com.
Dave Edwards, president of the Heron Financial Group in New York City, suggests setting up automatic deductions from your checking account into a savings account that you label according to your goal.
5. Reprioritize your fund allocation.
TIME.com writer J.D. Roth has spent six weeks in Bolivia and Peru. He’s been “climbing mountains, exploring ancient ruins, and sipping pisco sours.” How did he save up enough money to travel? He made a conscious decision about his spending habits. He still has his indulgences—his comic books, an expensive gym membership, just to name a few—but he also decided to give up cable television and buy most of his clothes from thrift stores. “In essence, I’ve cut back ruthlessly on the things that aren’t important to me so that I can spend on the things that do matter,” he says.
PHOTO: Mohamed Muha/Flickr Creative Commons; GIFS: Giphy