Money well Spent - Paying for Travel in Your 40s & 50s
I wish I could afford to travel internationally
As I mentioned in my first blog post Pack Light? money or lack of financial resources is one of the most common reasons women of color who are 40+ give for putting off or forgoing global travel. At this time in our lives, we are pulled in many directions and we can feel totally maxed out from multiple financial obligations. As I think about my travel plans for 2018, I can’t help thinking about the cost and how I will have to adjust my spending and shopping habits to accommodate my love for travel. Confession time: This is not my forte. Don’t get it twisted, when it comes to managing projects and resources for my work and for trips that I plan professionally, I am "on it" watching every dime and always seeking out ways to save money for my clients. However, like many of you, I am a single woman who is the sole bread winner in my home. I don’t know about you, but for me it is sometimes difficult to objectively look at my finances and decide what must go so that I can afford to travel without coming home to a financial mess. On this topic, I am a work in progress, however, I make travel work because I see it as a priority and view travel as a necessity and not a luxury. I am always seeking out new ways to afford travel and to understand what others are doing to save and financially plan for travel.
Thorough research is truly my secret weapon when it comes to traveling in a financially responsible way. I try to figure out the best ways to save on accommodations, flights and local expenses. Understanding the local transportation systems, knowing the high and low seasons and the ways that local people live enables me to save money by avoiding tourist traps. I am also always reaching out to travel networks to get tips from folks who have previously traveled to a locale. Good research can help you save money and time before you head out on that next trip.
Travel as if you will again
The most common way that we waste money while traveling is trying to fit in every possible "once in a lifetime" experience into one trip. We pack everyday with tours, cultural experiences, shopping and every extravagance that we can (or can't) afford justifying the overspending with the "I will never have this chance again" rationale. This type of travel can actually have the biggest negative impact on our upcoming travel. Does it really make sense to spend all of our savings on one single trip to Paris, without considering that Paris is actually a city that you discover something new every time you visit. I have been more than five times and each time I go, I experience something different. If you think of yourself as a traveler instead of a tourist, you begin making travel decisions based on what will make the most financial sense and based on what experiences you can reserve for when you go the next time.
Group Travel with Payment Plans
This is the type of travel that truly allows you to plan for travel and budget for an international trip at the same time. With group travel someone else has conducted the research and packaged an experience that typically includes meals, tours, accommodations and even airfare. To me, this is one of the best ways to pay for travel since most trips are planned anywhere from 6 months to a year ahead giving you time to pay and prepare without wasting a lot of money trying to figure out how to explore an unfamiliar destination. I personally love travel by lay away and knowing that the money I put toward the trip monthly is untouchable once I make a payment, I find traveling this way works so much better than trying to save for a trip on my own.
Travel Savings Account
A travel savings account allows you to be a little more spontaneous and to budget and choose a destination based on how much you can manage to save. Although you do need to initially wait for the account to grow, once you have established a practice of putting away a percentage of bonuses, side hustle money and money saved through adjusting wasteful habits, you will have a nice stash that allows you to plan a quick trip to London or Cuba for a long weekend. A travel savings account that is separate from money saved for household expenses and unexpected situations, means that a car repair or a water heater on the fritz won’t crash your plans for travel. Saving specifically for travel signifies that it's a planned and necessary expense that you are committed to honoring.
Travel Like a Local
This can be accomplished in many ways, but mainly traveling like a local means that when you are researching a destination, you should plan days to simply chill and allow serendipity to take over. Think about it, some of your best days on vacation typically are the days that something unexpected occurs, you wander onto a street and it is full of shops, you meet a local resident who tells you about a neighborhood cafe or festival that is THE best. Whenever I travel, I typically schedule one day with absolutely no plans, I ask someone what is cool about the area I am staying in, and then I explore. When I get home and review my expenses, these days are the days that I typically spend little or no money, free architecture walking tours, riding public transportation, visiting gardens, going to a movie, packing a lunch or figuring out the discount hours or days to visit popular attractions.
I have traveled to many places as a result of work commitments or to present at a conference in an exotic location, this is my favorite way to visit multiple locations on one trip. If I am traveling for business, adding a couple days on the front or the back end of my trip is pure bliss. I traveled through Florence, Rome and the Amalfi Coast after speaking at a conference in Florence. I may not have put together a trip like this if I weren't already going to be in Italy. This also applies to domestic travel, if you are going to be in LA, you might as well take a short flight to Hawaii or even take off for a trip to Japan with a non-stop flight from LAX at around $500 as opposed to $1600 or more from NYC or any East Coast city. Additionally, piggyback travel is the best way to bring family along, if a portion of your travel is covered, bringing your significant other, grown children or even your mom is doable, with the money you have saved on your travel expenses.
Not Down With the Hostels, Sorry
At this age, I don't choose to sleep in mixed bunks in hostels or camp on the beach or couch surf, however, I consistently research travel deals, make small adjustments and sacrifices before and while I am traveling so that I never have give up my love for travel. The tips I have shared are my favorite ways to travel at 40 and beyond without totally going broke or feeling stressed about money while away. I make it work because travel keeps me sane so that I can face the many responsibilites and commitments that I have at this time in my life.
Travel Fearless, Pack Light
How do you financially prepare to travel? In the comments, share your tips, hacks and best advice for saving and planning for travel at 40+