One of the biggest issues when it comes to throwing that camera in the backpack and going tapas hopping in the gothic quarter in Barcelona is, of course, money. It's not that you don't want to do it and post all those insta-worthy snaps for all to envy and crave, it's that most of the time you have bills to pay, credit cards to think of and just life in general to overwhelm you with its daily grind. Cutting corners is hard and there is no such thing as painless saving, but it is not impossible. Here's how we generally afford to go places.
1. It's the little things that add up. So you know that $4 Starbucks drink that you grab almost every morning? If you can manage to live without it, it ads up to $1400 a year. Yeah! I know! I was quite shocked myself when I realized my almond latte was basically two return tickets to Europe, but hey, you live you learn.
2. Eating in goes a long way...literally. We came to realize that one of our biggest budget slip-ups were all the restaurant bills we were stacking up. Eating out twice a week was adding up to $100/week for the both of us, so we decided to cut that in half and we ended up saving about $2600 a year.
3. Cash back credit cards. I know a lot of people are recommending the air miles credit cards for travellers, but I honestly prefer the ones that give me cash back. The air miles credit cards will charge an annual fee to get you those miles and I personally never gather enough to make proper use of them. Most of the times you can get a cash back credit card for no annual fee and depending on your spending you get around $200 per year. I know it doesn't seem much in the grand scheme of things, but this year I actually booked a round trip from Toronto to Copenhagen with WOW Air for $250 so there you go.
4. Keep your spending low and your dreaming big. One of the most important factor that contributes to our travel fund is the fact that we always try to live within, or even a bit lower than our means. We could afford a bigger space to live in but we went for a smaller one (to save on mortgage and utilities), we could afford more options on the car we bought, but we opted for the basic model (because it still takes you places just the same), we could spend more on interior decoration but we ordered our furniture from Ikea etc. You catch my drift. This allows us to save a few hundred dollars here and there that can really add up at the end of the year.
5. Deals, deals, deals. It always pays to be on the lookout for travel deals. I book most of our trips to Europe in late fall/early winter, about seven months before the trip, which usually cuts our travel expenses in half. I know that sounds super early, but most booking sites now offer options for trip insurance in case something comes up and you need to cancel. Also make sure you don't miss the Black Friday and Boxing Day sales - that's how we scored this year's trip to the Azores for $1000 per person (with flight, five star hotel and breakfast included).
These are just some of the things that work for these two travel hungry lunatics. I'd love to hear what works for you guys and what are your favourite ways to save for your dream vacations.
Have a brilliant day!