You’ve decided that you’re ready to make family travel a priority. Or maybe you haven’t quite decided yet, but you’re intrigued and want to learn more. Great! It’s time to start saving for your first trip.
But what if your kids are young? Great! It’s time to start saving.
But what if our schedule won’t permit travel for the next few years? Great! It’s time to start saving.
But what if…. It doesn’t really matter what your concern is. It’s still time to start saving for your first trip. The sooner you start, the sooner your balance will grow. If you can’t travel internationally for a few years, that’s ok. You’ll build up a significant amount before your first trip.
We started saving when our kids asked to go to France. I realized that we wouldn’t be traveling for a few years, but also knew that the trip would be a lot easier on our budget if we had money saved. Starting to save when we did set us up for the travel we’re doing now.
The only significant reason not to start saving is that you’re paying down consumer debt. In that case, you’ll get a pass from me, but I’d still recommend thinking about saving a little. Even putting away five dollars a week (or a month) is a start. When you have a travel account, the possibility of travel seems more real. Once the idea becomes real to you, you’ll be inspired.
Open a savings account
Thanks to online banking, it’s become easier than ever to open bank accounts. With most banks and credit unions, it’s possible to create a new savings account online. You can open one at your regular bank, or consider opening one with an online bank such as HSBC that gives you a higher interest rate. Mine is with our local credit union for simplicity.
It doesn’t really matter that much which bank you use, just open the account today. If you can name the account, do that. Ours is called “travel” (yes, I’m so original), but you can call it anything you want to. Think of something that inspires you. Saving for your first trip is exciting!
Set up automatic transfers
You want that account to grow! The best way to make that happen is to set up automatic transfers to it. I move money from our main family checking account to our travel account twice a month. Arrange to transfer as much as you feel comfortable with—don’t choose an amount that gives you heart palpitations. You can always see how things go for the first few months. If you find that you’re not missing the money at all, bump the amount up a little.
At first you’ll think about it a lot, but once you get used to the transfers happening, you’ll forget about them. That’s when the magic really starts to occur. One day you’ll look at the balance in the account and be surprised at how fast it’s growing!
Fund the account with windfalls
In addition to the scheduled transfers into the savings account, think about putting any extra money there as well. One time we received almost $2000 in compensation for flight delays on our trip back from France. That money went straight into the travel account. We’ve also been given money by family members as gifts. Right into the travel account. And what if you decided to cook at home instead of eating out? Yep, consider transferring the amount you would have spent on the meal into the travel account. Make a game of it with your family.
Keep your travel savings account sacred
Make a commitment to yourself right now that you will only use your travel account money for travel. (Speaking of which, you do have an emergency fund, don’t you? If you don’t, go ahead and set that account up right now, as well.) Your travel account money is for your travel dreams.
Once your travel account is on its way, start thinking about other steps toward family travel. For us, that was learning to use credit cards to get more miles and points. We paid for our first trip flights with miles that I accumulated while we were saving. By starting early, we were able to have plenty of dollars and miles before our first trip.
What are you waiting for? The world is out there. Start saving so you and your family can go see it!