What triggered me to write about this? My recent Batanes trip did.
A trip to Batanes, the northernmost province in the Philippines, can be a bit expensive. In fact, it has the #magastosperosulit reputation.
This isn’t the first time I was asked about trip cost right after a travel. Some probably think my friends and I have a million peso travel bank to pull resources from. We do not. I don’t. Like everyone else, we make ends meet and pull some strings in order to make trips possible. I save. After traveling for a while, I have found a system that works for myself and my friends. Some of you may have a better plan to share with me (please do by commenting!) but this one works for me all the time.
- Plan Ahead (Or Not)
I have a full time job. My travel dates have to be planned ahead of time so I can file for vacation leaves and manage my job coverage. To do this, a decision has to be made ahead of time – where and when to go. This applies to all other travel companions, if you have any. We all make sure that we follow the standard lead time in filing leaves. I am lucky because my friends usually follow my preferred dates. Planning ahead gives you a glimpse of your future expenses. You can make certain adjustments here and there. To me, it becomes more of a motivation. Our Batanes trip happened in late March. We started saving up for it in December of the previous year. While most are deciding what to buy from their Christmas bonus, we’ve already saved a portion of it for the trip.
On a side note, do not disregard the magic of spontaneous trips. You know what they say about unplanned trips! They are most likely to push thru. We have a lot of these, too. However, we only do this within our rest days and of course, budget.
2. Gradually Plan Details.
I find it most effective when details are planned in the following order as budget becomes available. You do not need to worry about all your expenses at the same time. Prioritize. More importantly, be patient.
- Book the trip. This sets final dates of your travel. To me, it closes the deal. This tells me who is determined to stick to the plan or not.
- Finalize accommodation details. Most only require a reservation and a certain down payment. Do not forget to check what goes with it. Is there free breakfast? Do they offer airport transfers? How do you pay? Is there a kitchen? Can we cook? Answers to these can help you foresee your other expenses.
- Create a game plan for your tours. What do you want to do? Where do you want to go? Is it better to sign up for group tours? Can I pull off a DIY? All these depend on your budget and what you are willing to take and give. On a separate post, I will try to share how I make a decision around these questions.
- Take care of the transfers and land transportation plan. Once you have an itinerary, you can start planning on land transfers and other transportation modes. Do you need bus tickets? Train access? Boat trips? If so, how do you get a hold of access? Are reservations needed? Can this be taken care of by the hotel?
- Finally, set target dates for each of the above. This tells you how much you need to prepare and when to have it ready. As you may have noticed, this takes planning, organization, coordination between you and your travel buddies, and, a lot of patience and excitement.
3. Other Tips
- Extra Income. If you can, find other sources to fund your travel. This way, other expenses are not fully touched. Before I traveled to China, I prepared and sold lunch packs for a few days. A friend earned extra by offering car and liaison services. Invest on a little extra work, if it helps. No reason to be shy. Or keep a coin bank (I do!). It will make the end result more precious.
- Food Sharing. If you are traveling in group, group order helps in budgeting and lets you taste different dishes. If you can cook, do. But do not forget to consider dropping by food places that will give you the local color, too.
- Budget Keeper. Assign someone to take care of budget and record. I do this for my friends. I have a very detailed list of who spends what? I usually ask for a certain amount from each and deduct expenses used individually. Here is an example:
Alright, it doesn’t look as organized as this in real life, you get the concept. See my actual budget notebook and you may not understand everything. Once budget runs out, I ask for a refresh. Before the trip starts, there is already a set budget to bring. I pull from that. Of course, it is wise to always bring something extra.
Above tips aren’t all. There are more things you can do to save up. But these are what you need to keep in mind in general. Maybe on a different post, I can go into more details.
For now, don’t be scared to chase your BIG DREAM TRAVELS. There is no secret, just discipline and determination. Do not procrastinate.
Plan. Organize.Prioritize. Make it happen. Share.
Hope to see you in one of these travels.