How To Save Money For Travel When You Have Debt
If you're one of the 40 million Americans currently working hard to pay off some big student loans, the fact that you're not alone might not be all that comforting.
After all, there are lots of other things you want to do with your cash, so it's discouraging when you feel like you're chained to alma mater for the next 10 to 20 years.
If travel is one of your dreams, there's some good news.
You don't have to have a trust fund to get out and see the world – or at least the country – while you pay down your student loan debt.
Try these tips to save money for travel while your stay on top of your bills, and the good life will feel well within reach:
1. Start a vacation fund.
The best way to make sure you can afford to travel is to set aside funds to make it happen before you go.
Even transferring just a few dollars a week into a dedicated savings account will add up, and you won't be tempted to max out your credit cards while you travel when you can use your cash instead.
2. Trim excess spending.
To build that vacation fund, try cutting costs around the house.
You may be spending more on electricity than you realize if you fall asleep with the TV on or still use wasteful incandescent light bulbs.
See how you can reduce your energy costs, and then funnel your savings directly into your travel fund to boost your travel budget.
3. Travel on the cheap.
Forget luxury resorts and spas. You can get a whole lot more out of your travel dollars when you embrace a backpacking mentality and hit the hostel scene.
As you explore, be sure to eat in local spots for dinner, and keep your cost low by embracing a picnic lunch courtesy of area markets.
Taking a road trip with friends can further lower your costs as you split lodging and gas costs.
4. Try a travel rewards card.
If you're confident you can handle a credit card responsibly, go ahead and sign up for one that offers you airline miles, hotel points or other travel benefits based on how much you spend.
As long as you vow to pay it off on time and in full each month, this can be a great way to rack up points on spending you would do anyway.
Think gas and groceries, not a new wardrobe or fancy dinners.
5. Consider working abroad.
If you're really drowning in student debt, it may actually be more efficient to move than to vacation.
If your current industry doesn't offer overseas opportunities, you might think about working in the Peace Corps or working as a flight attendant to see more of the world while you work to pay down your debts.
There are many job opportunities that come with travel as part of the package, so it's worth a look if you're ready for a major change.
6. Explore your own neighborhood.
If you're getting frustrated while you build up that vacation savings account, try playing tourist in your own city to feed the travel craving a bit.
Hit the local library for free museum passes and look for local deals on events and activities in your area.
There's probably more than one little attraction you've walked by a dozen times but have never gone into. Now is the time to see what you've been missing.
Travel is one of life's greatest pleasures, and you don't have to deny yourself just because you have student loans.
As long as you continue to meet your obligations, you should be able to carve out a little space in your budget to take advantage of less expensive vacation options, even if they're right in your own backyard.