Most families find it difficult to include travel into their family budget, especially if only one parent is working. There are a number of options to achieve reasonable travel aspirations without blowing out your family budget.
It is easy to get caught up in the desire to travel to far flung and exotic destinations, particularly if you have friends and family telling stories about their travels. Travel is a fantastic activity, but if you over extend yourself financially to do it then the impacts can be significant.
If you have to borrow money to achieve your travel desires then you are committing yourself to making repayments over a potentially long period. Making those repayments can be a bitter pill to swallow long after the enjoyable part of your vacation is over.
It is better to scale your travel plans in advance to match your budget. Once you know what your budget is you can then consider what holiday options will be affordable with peace of mind that you can afford your activity and come home refreshed and with a positive outcome for the long term.
The first step is to have a good understanding of your family budget. You need to ensure that your day to day expenditure is in control before your start committing to any travel plans. Once you have a good understanding of your budget you can then decide how much you can commit to travel.
Set up a separate account to deposit your travel savings, set up an automatic funds transfer to match your pay cycle and wait for the money to build up. Once you have been saving for a few months and confirmed that the new deposit is not adversely affecting your main budget you can continue to save with confidence. Now is the time to project forward six and twelve months to see how much you should accrue in your travel savings account.
Short Term Travel Planning
If you have a lean travel budget, look at local travel options including camping and staying in cheap local accommodation options. A short vacation at a local beach or other local destination will give you a good chance to relax and refresh. Also look into whether you have options to holiday off peak – you can save substantial amounts of money.
If you have a moderate travel budget you may be able to afford the next tier of travel options. This could include flights to closer destinations and travel for several weeks or going on a cruise. Develop a detailed itinerary and costing of the trip before committing so you are comfortable that the total trip cost is within your budget.
If you have a large travel budget then you may be a position to afford a more distant destination or travel for a longer period. Again, it is worthwhile to develop a detailed itinerary and trip cost estimate before committing so you are comfortable with the total trip cost.
Longer Term Travel Planning
You should also consider when you intend to travel. If you are prepared to save up your travel budget over a multi-year period then you should be in a position to afford more expensive trip options. It is worthwhile to develop a rough travel itinerary and cost so you understand how much money you will require for your desired trip, then calculate how long it will take you to save that much money. You can then decide if you are prepared to wait that period of time before your trip, or perhaps consider other vacation options which are achievable in shorter timeframe.