Although I love to travel, I must admit that it is expensive! I understand why people don’t ever commit to traveling plans. Budgeting and managing finances for travel can be confusing and stressful. All my travels have been quite expensive, and it was very intimidating for me to commit to some of my travels knowing that it was going to take me months to pay them off. However, I believe that traveling is a necessity. The world is our classroom and we have the right to explore it! Below you can find some tips that I took into account when financing my travels with IBS.
• If possible, it is important to plan for your seminar months in advance (no less than four months). I committed to my IBS seminar for 5 months in advance, so it is definitely doable to plan ahead and start saving. Airplane tickets and sight-seeing activities are often cheaper if you purchase online and in advance. Popular tourist attractions sell-out fast! Heading to London’s New Year’s Eve firework celebration? You need to purchase tickets in order to get a good view. You can purchase these tickets online on the mayor’s website. Purchase these tickets no less than two months in advance. Again, THEY WILL SELL OUT!
• Take advantage of payment plans. Pay monthly if you can. I personally receive my direct deposits every two weeks. This gave me enough time to pull from two pay periods to gather up enough money for a monthly payment to IBS. This method may only work for a flexible program like IBS. This may not be an option for independent travel.
• Purchase travel supplies monthly. For example, my seminar took place in December of 2019. By July, I was already buying items and supplies that I knew I would need for my seminar. For July, I bought myself a nice scarf that was on sale since I knew it would be cold in Europe during my seminar. During August, I bought travel size necessities such as shaving cream and lotion. In September, I bought an adapter. October and November were dedicated to buying winter clothes.
Create budgets for before, during, and after your seminar
• It’s a good idea to have a budget for all your pre-seminar purchases. Lucky for us, we didn’t have to worry about shampoo, conditioner, or towels since all hotels provided that for us during the seminar. However, you will need to budget for other travel supplies, such as adapters, toothpaste, and luggage. Research the usual costs of these supplies in advance and create a budget for these pre-seminar purchases. 99 Cent Only stores and Target are my go-to for cheap travel necessities. I recommend researching to see if you have similar stores in your area!
• Create a budget for your abroad purchases. It’s easy to get carried away with souvenir and food purchases while abroad, but you should be smart with your purchases. I suggest critically assessing how much you’re comfortable spending. Set this budget before you get on the plane! You want to know ahead of time how much money you want to take with you.
• I’ll be honest by saying that I spent more money than I should have while abroad. I was left with a tight budget when I returned home. I didn’t think about what I would come back with. My main concern was with how much money I would take, which is important to consider. However, I returned home with very little. This put me in a few predicaments upon arrival to the U.S. Make sure you leave some money behind at home or in your bank account that will allow you to recover from a few weeks away from work. My seminar was about 12 days. This meant that I was not working for 12 days and so my paycheck post-seminar wasn’t going to be so grand. Think about this ahead of time and make sure that you have enough money to cover your return from the seminar.
Cash or card?
• Depending on your financial institution, cash may be the cheaper option. Check-in with your bank at least one month before you travel to learn about foreign transaction fees. In my case, it was cheaper for me to exchange my American dollars to Euros and Pounds. For others, it was simply cheaper to use a card for every transaction.
• If you decide that using your debit or credit card is the cheaper option for you, still consider carrying around some cash. Most street vendors in Europe don’t accept card so make sure you have cash handy.