If you’re like myself, then you are one of the 47% of the U.S. population that a certain presidential candidate says he does not care about. If said person gets elected, then expect more people to join our fun and exciting group of people that consists of most college students, most active duty and retired military members, members of the law enforcement, the elderly, 9 to 5 office workers, and the people that make your favorite latte in the mornings.
Speaking of that latte, you might have to learn to love your office coffee or your own home brew if you want to start saving money for travel. I do. Every $5 saved will take you a long way, especially when traveling to places where the U.S. dollar isn’t pants (most of SE Asia, central America).
Being back in the U.S. for the first time in two years- and on an extended stay here- I can see that times are hard. Well are they? I have been to several malls since being back and I see iPhone5′s sold out, people pre-ordering iPad minis, Air Jordans still get sold out on release dates, still have to wait in line to eat at CPK, and it’s no secret that Victoria’s Secret seems to have a store for every thing a women wears (seriously, do you need a separate place to sell Pink pajama bottoms that women only wear on airplanes?).
When do we save?!?
I know, I know, it is difficult to save. I’m not married and don’t have children and I still find it hard to save money. If you follow my Instagram or just know me in general, you know that I am a huge sneakerhead, and I love tailor-made suits. In fact, my wardrobe has always been the bane of my bank account. I love dressing nice. Recently though, I had to tell myself that I don’t need every pair of retro Jordans (oh, but those Year of the Rabbit 7′s would go so great with many outfits). Why did I do that? Closet space for one, and also, because rather than walking down Main Street USA in a pair of J’s, I could be walking down Abbey Road in London in a pair of Crocs (okay, you’ll never see me wear Crocs, I promise).
Small sacrifices to myself are how I get to travel.
Now you’re probably saying to yourself that I get to travel because I am- rather, was- on a US Navy ship and I was stationed in Japan. You’re correct, for some of my travel you are. But, savvy readers and friends will note that I often re-visited places my ship went to so that I could experience being there without 1,000 Sailors around and without the restrictions we have when we visit ports. That travel required my own spending and proper financial planning.
How do I do it? Here are several ways that I save money to take a big vacation or two per year (10-30 days):
Still have DirecTV or cable? Come on, really? In this day and age where you can watch nearly every thing you want for free (Youtube, Hulu, your co-workers external hard drive), why do you still have DirecTV or a TV period? Think about your favorite tv programs. Probably on once a week right? Maybe you have 5 or 6 must-see shows a week. You could watch them on iTunes for $1.99 a show. Still less than you pay for satellite or cable. If you’re like myself, and don’t mind being behind, then you can wait until you travel and purchase the bootleg dvd season for less than $10. Cut the satellite and cable tv umbilical cord and start saving a great deal monthly.
You save= $50-100 a month, perhaps more.
Get a friend in the airline industry. Or date a stewardess. Or ask friends and family members if they know someone who knows someone. You’d be surprised how lenient most airlines are when it comes to using Buddy Passes. As long as you know how to dress and act appropriately, and your savvy and flexible enough to know what airports to fly out/in and the peak/off-peak seasons, you could find yourself traveling for next to nothing (typically just the taxes are what you pay).
You save= depending on where you go, but any flight costing a total of $300 is worth getting a Buddy Pass for. A Buddy Pass from LAX to Sydney, for instance, will save you over $1,000.
Don’t slave yourself to technology. I have an iTouch and a 3yr old Blackberry. Not an iPhone4s or iPhone5 nor the latest Galaxy or Android. Besides calling, I can do every thing you can do on your iPhone5. Yes, your 5 can do this, that, this and that but often do you use them? Can your eyes really tell the difference between 5 megapixels and 8 megapixels? And my monthly service plan cost? What monthly service plan cost. I connect using wifi. My phone plan for the BB is less than $20 a month. Need to call me for a long conversation, that’s what FaceTime, Skype and my favorite, Voxer are for.
You save= I estimate between $30-100 depending on your plan and carrier. More than that when you stop purchasing every new model product.
Ass, gas and grass, no one travels for free. Single? Enjoy the club/bar scene where you are? Same people right? Time to start staying out of the nightlife scene (I did not say you had to stay home). You’ll be much happier partying at Gilligan’s in Cairns after a day of Great Barrier Reef scuba diving than you are partying with Gilligan at Karen’s bar after a day of great boring cubicle sitting. You know what’s next. Yes, gotta ditch the car man. At least stop driving so much to places you can walk to. You work or go to school with other human beings right? Ride share. If the weather permits, take a bicycle. Come on, son. Grass means it is time to cut down on your daily addictions; cigarettes, coffee, actual weed perhaps, candy, fast food. All those things that might only seem like $5 here, $5 there, those all add up… A LOT. On top of cutting them, you’ll also begin to cut up your physique. Just in time for nude bathing in Greece right?
You save= On average, I’d spend over $100 on a night clubbing in Tokyo and I don’t drink a lot. With gas being over $4 a gallon, you can imagine your savings there. Factor more in if you ditch the car and don’t have loan and insurance payments. Figure at minimum $5-10 daily if you cut your cravings.
The above of some of the ways I save when I am planning a vacation. You’ll notice that you didn’t have to sell any prized possessions, donate an organ, buy used underwear, sleep on a strangers couch or rent a room to a creeper. The above suggestions should not put you too much out of your comfort zone (quiet smokers). As you begin to rethink your spending, you’ll start saying to yourself, “If I don’t buy this, I could use this money when I am in….” That’s what I do. Knowing how far a five dollar bill can get you in most places, you will be happy when you have that extra five in your pocket when you walk past that sign in Sihanoukville, Cambodia advertising a two-hour massage for $5.
You can travel without being rich, without being sponsored, without giving up your life and working overseas. If all you want is a two-week vacation at the place on your screen saver, then get there. It can be done if you are willing to sacrifice. I joined the Navy to travel. I didn’t know about teaching English overseas or working for an airline. The internet is full of valuable information to help you see the world for little or nothing at all. Alright, I have to go. I am planning my vacation to Montreal/Quebec City or maybe I’ll go to Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane. I expect you to meet me for some poutine at La Banquise or perhaps some shrimp on the barbie at Byron Bay.
Readers, what are some sacrifices you make prior to traveling, to save money for your holidays?