Saving up for the trip of a lifetime sounds daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s actually a lot simpler than most people think. By making a few small changes in your daily life, you could be ready to head out on a fancy luxury vacation or a months-long backpacking trip by year’s end. Before reading these 7 tips, keep in mind that you have to be dedicated towards traveling. Skipping steps each month can drastically set you back. Before you know it you are no close to your goal and give up. But NOT THIS TIME!!! These 7 steps to save for a dream vacation are attainable and after a little while, you won’t even know you are doing them, they will be second nature.

Figure out Your Trip

First, you need to figure out what your trip looks like. How long is it – weeks or months? What kind of accommodation will you stay in – 5-star hotels or youth hostels? Where are you going and how are you going to get there? Once you’ve decided what your dream vacation will be about, you’ll be able to set a budget and know how much money you need to save. 5K, 10k+, it doesn’t matter. What matters is you need to set an exact goal.

Save for a Dream VacationSet up a Travel Fund

Set up a bank account to be your travel fund. Connect it to your other accounts so that transfers are nice and easy. As soon as you get paid, immediately deposit or transfer money to this account. It can be $5 or 10% of your check or as much as you can afford to put away. This will let you know how much money you have to work with. Plus, it’s fun to watch that money grow!

Cook at Home

Don’t know how to cook? This is the perfect time to learn. Cooking at home as opposed to eating out will save you time in the long run and loads of money. Reserve a few hours on one day of the week to do your shopping and meal preparing for the week. When you have food in the fridge ready to go, you’ll be less tempted to go out for dinner. Preparing food for lunch means no need to go out mid-day either. Even cutting back from 5 meals out a week to just 1 could save you $150 a month! Another tip is to meal prep on Sundays. Pre-make meals and freeze them, cut vegetable and prepare the main course. That way when you are in the business of the week, cooking is not as time consuming as it could be.

Skip the Gym

We’re not saying you should give up working out or being healthy, but why spend money on a gym membership when the great outdoors offers so many options for exercise. From running at the park to doing pullups at the playground, leave the machinery behind and use the world as your gym. There are many amazing apps that can guide you through working out at home with equipment you already have.

Find Free Activities

Not everything you do has to cost money. Instead of hitting up a movie or going to the zoo, look for fun and free activities your community offers. Often, museums will have one day a month or week that is free to visit. Free concerts in the park are also popular. Check your city’s events calendar for a list of all cheap and free events. If you live in a smaller community, take a cycle around town and bring a picnic to the park. Even window shopping can be fun!

Save for a Dream VacationShop Smarter

Instead of spending lots of money on new clothes, check out your local thrift shops. With some time and patience, you can find some really excellent items. For groceries, shop around. Maybe you get your meat from one place and your produce from another. It might take a bit of extra time, but it’ll save you quite a few bucks. And watch out for those coffee drinks, even a few a week and really add up!

Work with Cash

Yes, cards are convenient, but it’s easy to overspend when you don’t actually see the money in front of you. Instead, take out cash from your bank. You can take cash for the week or the month and even separate it into envelopes labeled Food, Entertainment, etc. Once the cash gets low you’ll know you really need to cut back on things. If you splurge on a meal out, you’ll know you have to cook at home for the rest of the week.

These are just a few simple steps but following them will definitely get you on the right track to save for a dream vacation. Before you know it you’ll be sitting on that beach in Bali, trekking through Central America or skiing in the Alps!

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