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How I’m going to save for the biggest trip of my life

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Going to 50 places the year I turn 50 sounds so extravagant. After all, I have bills to pay and there are seemingly more practical things to spend my money on. But I don’t intend to fly first class on every trip and stay in $1000 dollar a night hotels. I’m a single mom with a teenager who can’t afford to quit her job and run off to chase my dream for a year. So how am I going to save for the biggest trip of my life? I’m going to have to figure out a way to make it happen —on a budget —around my job —and my daughter. That doesn’t mean I won’t splurge on occasion but I’m going to have to choose wisely.

The budget is one of the biggest obstacles for me to tackle. It’s also why I started planning all of this two years before the actual trip in 2020. I went to dinner with a travel agent friend and told her what I was doing. When I asked her how much I was going to need to make it happen she, of course, said it depended on a bunch of factors like location, time of year, etc but she thought $30,000 was a good start. Yikes! I’m going to have to get creative to pull this off!

Being the journalist I am I started by doing a little online research. Some of the saving money articles I have read offer suggestions like give up Starbucks every week or get rid of cable. Those aren’t bad ideas but I’’m not convinced that’s my answer.

The best I can tell I’m going to have to find the right combination of the following:

  • Saving money by sacrificing a few things (I’m working on what I am willing for that to be—there are things to cut but in order to do it for more than a month you have to really be willing to call it a priority)
  • Earning more money by taking extra jobs (I’ll have to be careful of burnout but I think I can squeeze in a little here and there)
  • Searching out good deals (I started by signing up a for cheap flight newsletter—wow! there are deals if you know where to look. Scott’s Cheap Flights could be a game changer for me. I’ll keep you posted)
  • Using my credit card to rack up some points to spend on things like hotels, flights etc. (Lucky for me I haven’t cashed in my American Express points for at least 3 years. I also have a credit card that builds airline miles.)
  • Staying with friends on occasion to avoid needing accommodations.
  • Making a few smart investments that can pay off in the short term.
  • Living well beneath my means so I can stash extra away.
  • Saving part of my tax return money. Last year I got a really good return that I’m going to start my travel account with.

Oh, that’s another thing. I think in order to do this I am going to have to be honest with myself. I can’t leave all my money lumped together. It will play tricks on my brain and make me think I can buy expensive shoes and go out for wine and sushi with friends anytime I want. I need to keep my travel fund separate so I can see it growing or do something about it if it’s not. I’m a goal setter.

It’s all about priorities, right? 

When I set out to run a half marathon  I didn’t just have a bunch of extra time in my day for training. I had to figure out what to give up to make the time. I think this is the same kind of thing. It may mean saying no to an occasional night out but if I really want to do this then that’s what I have to do.

One of my clients is a big believer in the abundance mindset. I have to believe I will have enough. I have to believe I can do this.