Pay for travel? Are you wondering how to do it?
Me, too. Wish you could just magically come up with cash? Likewise. I’m not–and likely never will be–wealthy. So I need clever little methods to help me get to the places I want to see; pay for coffee, wine, and museums when I get there; and keep me convinced that I will be able to do it again.
Today I share with you four methods that I use…plus a bonus “sneaky” one that may or may not actually count as a way to pay for travel. Five in all. And they work for me! Let’s start with the obvious.
Pay for Travel #1: The Basic Coin Jar
No points for originality here. People have been saving coins since coins were invented. I’m sure that coin jars crop up in archeological digs. But there’s a reason that zillions of us empty our pockets and purses at the end of the day: It all adds up. Quarter by dime by nickel by penny, it’s a painless way to get a hundred bucks. I love the sound of the coins clunking when I toss them in. Low-tech, too…my container is a metal Grand Marnier container from a Christmas gift many years ago. The liqueur is long gone, but that bright red can holds about $300 when full. It’s about half-full right now.
I use my coins to fund my travel–after I take the coins to Coinstar (Yes, I know there’s a charge, but my rationale is…well, I don’t actually have a rationale. I just do it.) I take the folding money and put it in my travel envelope. Unless I get a $5 bill…
Pay for Travel #2: The $5 Bill Ploy
Again, I can take no credit for this. About five or six years ago, I read about a woman whose entire saving strategy was to keep every $5 bill that came her way. She figured that $5 isn’t such a huge amount that she would miss one or two. Yet it was definitely faster than The Coin Jar. Seemed like a solid plan, so I decided to try it. Shazam!! It is brilliant! True enough, when I get a $5 bill, I don’t spend it. I bring it home and tuck it in a charming ceramic milk bottle that I bought during my one-and-only trip to Leavenworth, Washington. Then I forget about all the $5 bills–until it’s time to deposit them for spending money at my destination. You would be surprised how those Lincolns add up. The most recent time I tapped into the supply, I had $350. Not a huge amount, but it pays for a museum pass, the Metro or Tube, and some nice lunches. But my REAL savings scheme?
Pay for Travel #3: The Andrew Jackson Travel Fund
Here’s where I am always thinking up new and creative ways to get to my next trip. Many, many years ago, when I was an ICU nurse, a co-worker told me to save $5 a week to take vacations. That’s what she did: “It’s only $250 a year, but it’s $250 I wouldn’t have otherwise…” And so, I began to do the same. Over the decades, the weekly amount grew. In lean times, a few months would pass between deposits. But as soon as I could, I’d be back at it. As a single mom, it could take a few years to save enough. Now I try to make it a game: Making an ATM withdrawal? $20 to the fund. Using the debit card to pay for groceries? An extra Jackson into the envelope. Any luck with the occasional lottery scratch-offs? You guessed it…India, here I come! Is there anything else to boost the fund? Why yes…
Pay for Travel #4: The Weekly Deposit Challenge
I’m pretty sure I found this savings scheme on Facebook. It seemed ridiculously easy. At the end of the year, you can claim $1,378.
You’re thinking this is no big deal, tucking a few dollars away every Thursday. Especially at the beginning, when the amount is laughable. $1? Really? Yep, really. So I did what you would probably do: Put in a $10 bill and crossed off four weeks. Almost through January in one masterful move.
Onward through the year. The first six months were easy-peasy. Then about July, I had to make sure I had enough cash on hand to meet my obligation. Coming up with $37, then $38, then $39…starts to require forethought. When Thursdays rolled around in November and December-yikes! But I couldn’t stop so close to the finish line. You’d feel the same.
Then there is the “bonus” method that I use. You will love it or hate it, depending on your destinations and viewpoints.
Bonus #5: Bring Back Cash and Coins
I really like to bring back a stash of Euros. Mainly, I consider it “seed money” for the next trip. Most of my travel has been within the European Union, so it gets tucked away, yet serves as the foundation for the next adventure. It also gives me a supply of coins and small bills to start out with. Very frustrating to hit an ATM on arrival and receive only €50 notes to pay the taxi fare of €5.
This is the technique that not everyone will agree with. To some it seems wasteful and a bit of a gamble concerning exchange rates. I’m just passing it along for consideration.
The lesson here is that little money becomes big money. Big money makes dreams come true.
If you have a secret that helps you pay for travel, we’d love to know about it! After all, we’re all looking for a way to finance our next gelato…
Need more budget travel tips?