It’s hard to believe that 2015 is already coming to a close. We’ve had so many adventures this year, from travels abroad to that little thing called our wedding(!). It’s going to be a hard year to say goodbye to, but we’re so excited that it’s finally time to start making plans and resolutions for 2016. Two things that actually go hand-in-hand for us this upcoming year.
Capital One Bank just released a survey which identified that a third of Bostonians are making financial well-being the no. 1 resolution for 2016 (trumping health and fitness!).* Yet only nine percent of us admitted to having completed all of those financial goals. Why?
Personally, I think it’s because many of us aren’t specific enough about what we’re saving for. Yes, some of us do have goals like “pay off student debt” or “save for down payment on house” (or car!). But beyond that, what do you hear your friends saying? “Spend less money on food”? “Stop impulse shopping”? All good, but when there’s a motivating factor—something to save for—behind those resolutions, I guarantee you’ll stay more in check. And you’ll delete that 25%-off-your-favorite-brand email before you even open it.
For us this year? Another trip abroad. We’re in the mindset of, if not now, when? But it’s going to take some saving and planning, just like last time. In the same boat as us? Here are my tips and favorite tools for saving for that dream vacation:
- Accommodations: Opting for Airbnb over hotels saved us quite a bit of money, but 8 nights in an apartment is still a significant cost.
- Travel between cities and countries, depending on your plan— whether you’re renting a car, traveling by train, bus, plane, or boat.
- Travel within a city! Metro passes add up surprisingly quickly, and you’ll want to budget for some cab rides as well, just in case. Also remember that a lot of European cities’ airports are far from “downtown,” so you’ll need to pay for transportation to the city center.
- Food & drink: You’re probably going to be eating at least 2 meals out a day— unless you’re renting an apartment with a kitchen, chances are you won’t be grocery shopping and preparing meals “at home.” Even if you’re just grabbing a croissant for breakfast, a baguette and fromage for lunch, 8 days of that for two people definitely put a dent in our wallets.
- Entry fees: Museums, attractions, tours, entertainment, churches, WATER CLOSETS [Yes! You’re charged for public restrooms in many places!]
- Souvenirs, gifts for family and friends: Better to plan for this, and pat yourself on the back later if you are able to avoid shopping.
- A $25 outlet adapter before we even took off [ok, our fault for forgetting that, but ouch]
- ATM and foreign conversion fees
- WATER. It sounds silly and almost kind of fun, but wine is the same price, if not cheaper, than water at a lot of restaurants in Europe. I also felt like I was constantly spending money on water bottles, with so much walking involved, as it was rare to find a place to fill up my Camelbak.
- Church admission fees. Generally speaking, if it’s an active church, there won’t be an entry fee [though you should leave a donation]; however if it’s no longer in use as a church, you may have to pay admission, as in the case of Sainte Chapelle in Paris.
- Restaurant service fees; I’m sure many of you have heard that “you don’t have to tip in Europe,” but this is because of the fact that a service fee is oftentimes already included.
- For those of you driving at all, beware of toll roads! Not unusual to pay ~100+ euro for tolls on a trip. Along with car rental, you will have parking in major city centers and petrol.
- Breakfast at hotels. If it’s included, lucky you, but if not, these can be silly expensive. Probably best to grab a croissant on the run, but if you prefer the former, be sure to plan for pricey petit déjeuers!
Also beware that exchange rates could change between the time of planning and the time of departure— and not necessarily in your favor.
2. Open a savings account for this specific trip. 360 Savings from Capital One allows you to open up to 25 savings accounts (for free!), and nickname them, so you can keep everything you’re saving for separate and in check. Nicknaming your accounts is great motivation to get you saving more [#FanningmoonTake2]
3. Set up automatic deposits so that a portion of each paycheck goes into the account, without you even having to think about it.
4. Think about where you can cut costs elsewhere leading up to the trip. Level Money allows you to track your spending, so you’re able to see if you’re spending way more in a category—say, food—than necessary. Recognizing that you’re putting a significant amount of your paycheck into eating out each month may inspire you to do more grocery shopping and cooking at home if it means more money to eat out when you’re on that fab trip abroad.
5. Put off other travel—but there’s no reason to feel stuck! If you’re a New Englander like me, I’ve spent the last few years compiling a guide to local Northeast trips that you can do in a day for pennies. Sometimes getting even just half an hour out of the city can feel like a world away, and all you need is a coffee to-go, packed picnic, and tank full of gas.
6. Use ‘My Savings Goals’ to set deadlines and track your savings along the way. There will be costs long before your departure date, including your plane flight. Make the cost of tickets your first goal (noting that you have to purchase them, say, 6 months prior to the trip), and then continue planning and tracking from there.
What’s on your travel radar for 2016?
*Results collected from a survey of Bostonians on their new year’s resolutions executed by Capital One Bank.
Full Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Capital One; however, all opinions expressed are my own.
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