March 27, 2011
How I paid for my 36 days in Italy.
The decision was made in September 2010: in ten months I would be backpacking in Italy. Besides wondering how I was going to afford the trip, I began to wonder how I was going to afford all the gear I would need. Reading over some of the packing lists by experienced backpackers, I knew there was a lot I did not have in my arsenal.
Most of the money was already in my savings account.
Years ago, I had my bank add a second savings account linked to my existing savings and checking accounts. This way I could transfer money between any of the three. The purpose of this was to create a piggy bank that was just for travel. My deposits into my travel savings were not on any particular schedule. If there was no trip coming up, most of my excess income would go into regular savings and a little would go into travel savings. So whenever I scheduled a trip, I knew there was at least enough in savings to cover the cost of a plane ticket and hotel reservation. In the months leading up to the vacation, I usually put more of my excess income into the travel savings to fatten it up for my upcoming trip. I’ve been doing this for years, and it works.
It cannot be done without understanding your personal budget. I know when each bill is due and how much I spend on groceries, gas, entertainment, etc. Knowing how much I need for each week during the month allows me to establish a maximum balance in my checking account. So anything over that amount gets moved to savings. My deposits into savings will change from week to week, but something is always getting put away.
Using this method, I’ve been able to afford at least two vacations a year. Sometimes just weekend excursions, but I like being able to assess my account and know that in three months I can afford a 3-day stint in Las Vegas or a two weeks in Hawaii.
I used my relatives.
Announcing my travel plans early meant I had one birthday and one Christmas to use for getting some of my gear. My family was actually really generous for both events and they saved me a couple hundred dollars from by big back pack (value $100) to various odds and ends. Thank you!!
I used Amazon.com’s wish list and sent it to my family members. This let me choose exactly what I wanted down to the color and size. My family was pleased to get me the exact item I wanted, and I was thrilled to get it for free.
After this trip I am going to tally everything up and evaluate just where all my money went. I may find that gelato took a large percentage of my cash. (This would not be a bad thing.)
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