“How can I plan for the experiences of a lifetime?”
Do you long for a secluded beach? The opportunity to learn a new skill? A chance for multiple generations of family to gather? A night out at an expensive restaurant? Experiences make our lives richer. In fact one academic paper1 found that people who spend money on experiences—like travel and restaurants—are measurably happier than those who buy goods. And getting away seems particularly attractive after a pandemic year, in which many were confined to our homes for work, school and leisure time.
Travel costs money, however, and it’s smart to start saving ahead of time for a special trip, rather than just putting it on a credit card. The Expedia report2 found that, on average, people had saved $3,444 for their next trip. Millennials were saving more than any other generation, on average $5,462.
Decide where you want to go and what you want to do
You may already know what your ideal experience would be. If not, think about the activities that make you happiest, whether it’s snorkeling through pristine waters or viewing cutting-edge art exhibits. Then find the places where you can pursue your passions.
You should also think about how you want to have these experiences. Are you happy on your own or with just a spouse or partner? Do you want to include your kids? Are there other family members or friends you’d like to reconnect with? All these factors can shape the kind of experience you want, as well as the cost.
Make a budget
Think about how much you make and how much you spend on necessities, then calculate how much you can spend on making a dream come true. With this number in mind, you can plan a memorable experience that won’t jeopardize your long-term financial security.
Consider establishing a dedicated account to save for your experiences. Even modest contributions, like $100 a month, can build up over time, giving you the cash you need to fund your trip.
Look for ways to save money
You can reduce the cost of any trip by booking early, using credit card or frequent flyer points, traveling off season and looking for deals. There are plenty of websites that can help you find inexpensive destination ideas, as well as bargain travel apps through which you can find cheaper fares and hotels.
But also plan for splurges
This is your dream. Plan to spend a little extra money. Build special experiences into your budget, like opera tickets in Berlin or a zipline tour through the rain forest. Make the most of your once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Think about trip insurance
Even the best planned trip can hit a snag if your flight is cancelled or delayed or you get sick. Travel insurance can protect you from the unexpected, covering meals and additional hotel nights if you are stuck in transit. If you become ill and can’t take your trip, travel insurance can reimburse you for cancellation costs. It can even pay for bringing you back home if you become sick during the trip. It’s often quite inexpensive.
Plan the experience of a lifetime without breaking the bank
With a little advanced planning, you can have an amazing experience without going broke or taking on credit card debt. Ask your financial professional to help you reach your dream. You can start on your journey with these simple steps.