Budgeting for a future vacation is the first step toward parking yourself in that beach chair, sinking your teeth into that flaky French croissant, or strolling along that exotic city’s boulevards as dusk falls and the stars start twinkling. Ever since I started budgeting, I’ve had a special Travel Fund savings account and religiously transferred money into this account each month.
My boyfriend Michael and I are traveling to Europe in late August and staying for 3 weeks. In late April, I started booking flights and looking at routes. So far, this is how I’ve gone about planning our trip.
- Using Miles: I knew long ago that I wanted to use saved up airline miles to get us part of the way to Europe. I used two credit cards from one airline and got both of the cards’ sign-up bonuses of 35,000 miles, plus all the miles I’d accumulated by using the cards (one mile per dollar spent) to cover flights for both of us from Honolulu to New York City. I had to be flexible on the dates so I could capitalize on the lower rates, so we’re leaving on a Monday and coming back on a Saturday. We’re saving a lot by flying halfway to Europe using miles, but had to adjust our plans in order to use them. Total cost to fly HNL-JFK: only $67 in fees! Also, 100,000 frequent flier miles.
- Being Realistic: To get us the rest of the way to Europe, I looked for cheap flights. Going on budget airlines wasn’t a good deal though, given that we would each be checking in a bag. I also wanted to allow for some train travel in between cities, so that we could get different experiences than just hanging out in airports. Given that we lose two days just getting to the continent and afterward, returning to Hawaii, I had to trim down the number of countries we are visiting in order to let us have at least a few days in a row with my family. If we had kept everything we thought we could do on the itinerary, it would have been non-stop travel and no relaxation! Days we’ll spend with my parents in Sweden: 4 1/2; days we’ll spend with my sister and her fiance on the shores of Lake Constance: 5 1/2!
- Stay True to your priorities: I’ve never been to Italy and it’s been on my Top 5 list of countries to visit for a number of years. A visit to Venice, which for us will only be one full day with two nights and two half days on each side, is something I really wanted for this trip. I’m so excited about trying authentic Italian food and wine, and experiencing this amazing city. When other parts of the trip were on the chopping block due to scheduling limitations, skipping Venice was off the table as far as I was concerned.
As the trip draws closer, I’m getting more and more excited to show Michael our family farm, as well as the new places we’ll discover together.
In my next post, I’ll cover the ways I’m budgeting for the trip.