Although traveling may be a common bucket list item, it remains to be a far-fetched goal for many. Since it requires a good amount of money, those without a trust fund or inheritance are constantly faced with the dilemma of having to choose between offsetting their debt and satisfying their wanderlust.
According to a NerdWallet study, the average U.S. household owes a total of $137,063 (including mortgage). Almost everyone is dealing with debt in one form or another. While the importance of paying off loans can’t be overemphasized enough, it’s possible to seek adventure and stick to your long-term financial goals. The following tips can help you travel while managing debt.
Take Stock of Your Financial Situation
Traveling with debt is possible, but that doesn’t mean ignoring your financial situation and traveling without a care in the world. Before booking your next trip, you need to get your finances in order. You can start by taking stock of your assets and debts, setting up a reasonable debt repayment plan, and understanding how much you need to fully stock an emergency fund.
Once you know what you can spend, make a long-term plan and create room in your budget for travel. You can do this by transferring your credit card balances onto a single zero-interest card (compare credit cards before you do this) or taking on a personal loan to pay them off at a lower rate.
Set A Travel Budget Goal
It is prudent to first think about your purpose for traveling and where you want to go. Afterward, you can save for your trip by opening a separate bank account and setting up a savings goal. While doing this, consider your travel style and the duration of your trip.
The following techniques can help you save towards achieving your travel budget goals.
- The 50/30/20 financial guideline: use 50% of income for mandatory expenses, 30% on optional expenses, and 20% on savings.
- Reverse budgeting: put money towards your goals first before your living expenses.
Having enough savings for your ensures you can cover all travel expenses upfront without getting into more debt.
Do your Research
Researching well before the actual travel can provide budget-friendly options for the debt-conscious traveler. Popular travel blogs and online forums may offer news on destinations and helpful money-saving suggestions. That said, if you find a place within your budget, it’s worth verifying prices with airline carriers and hotels directly for any special deals or discounts while skipping some reservation fees.
Even last-minute travelers can find deals if they know where to look. There are a variety of apps and sites like One:Night and cheapoair.com dedicated to finding last-minute deals. Be sure to read the fine print and identify hidden taxes and fees.
Proper research could also help you evade spots that are popularly known for scamming, conning, and defrauding tourists. Failure to research doesn’t only make you miss some affordable attraction spots, but it may also increase your chances of running into a problem.
Control your Travel Costs
As a traveler who’s in debt, the last thing you need is little costs that can increase your debt. Consider making your travel simpler and more cost-effective by using the tips below:
Travel Within Your Means
This may mean possibly making sacrifices to save. If you can, try to pay for your travel expenses upfront with cash so that you don’t accumulate more debt while traveling. Utilizing airline miles and spending your days walking or using public transit is a great way to minimize your travel costs.
To save your pennies, eat better, and have a truly authentic experience, you can eat with the locals. Often, if an eatery is filled with locals, you can count on the food to be tasty and affordable. Another way to save some cash is to pick up in-season foods at a farmer’s or local market. It’s the perfect way to put together a low-cost meal.
Plan For Free Attractions
Visit the tourist information center in your destination to find out what free attractions are in that city. You can look up museums, city parks, free walking tours, markets, churches, hiking, and even wildlife watching. A city tourism card can be suitable if you plan on seeing a lot of sites in a city.
You may have to travel during the off-season for the cheapest deals. Consider embracing the sharing economy to find cheaper accommodation, quirky tour guides, and ride-share options.
Make Money While You Travel
There’s another option if you’re intent on traveling while you’re still in debt: getting a side hustle. It might not make sense for a short trip, but for longer excursions, you may consider applying for jobs in other cities. Online writing, blogging, and tutoring are among the jobs that allow you to work remotely through sites like Upwork and FlexJobs.
You can also consider investing through apps like Webull, TD Ameritrade, or you can try to find the best stock trading platform that works for you. If you’re thinking of going this route, it is advisable to be aware of the risks involved. Remember, it also works best as a long-term strategy.
You may want to make sure your job/side hustle pays enough to cover your living expenses, including your debt repayments.
Purchase Travel Insurance
Being prepared is one of the most valuable money-saving tips. Purchasing travel insurance can give you additional comfort and potentially save you money in the long run. Lost bags, snowstorms, or airport diversions may happen despite the best planning. Whether you’re a novice or professional nomad, it’s important to keep your investments protected with a travel insurance policy. It can help you get your trip back on track.
Traveling the world can expand your horizons and provide life-changing experiences, but, you don’t have to wait until you’ve paid off all your debt to it. Every situation is different, but with these tips in mind, travel can be attainable for those who are managing debt. This balanced approach can strengthen your financial health while you live your dream.