Funding Your Travel Bucket List

With the New Year now in full swing, something a lot of people will be thinking about is travel… and when it comes to travel, we all have a ‘bucket list’… whether it’s written down on paper, on Pinterest, or just in your head.

Just so we’re clear, a bucket list, by definition is a list of all the things you want to do before you die – yet, as that’s a bit morbid, a lot of people have yearly bucket lists of things they want to achieve before the end of the year, or by the time they’re forty for example.  The term itself comes from, or was at least made famous by, a 2007 movie called “The Bucket List” where Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson play characters that are both dying of cancer, and decide to create a bucket list of things they will do together before they do; from race car driving and going on safari in Africa to climbing a mountain in Nepal… the film goes on to show them fulfilling their bucket list before they die, which is a very sad yet liberating and inspiring process to watch.

Now, in addition to the fun stuff of working out what goes on this year’s travel bucket list the first thing to address is how to afford your next travel adventure.  Here are a few top tips on how to make your dream a reality on this front, and then a couple of trending destinations and activities you might want to consider including on your list.

Start Saving – In addition to courage, the most important resource you’re going to need in your pursuit of a phenomenal travel adventure is to have some money behind you.  Some people take out a loan, but often, this can take away from the value of the experience and isn’t particularly sustainable or financially responsible.  

See, if you are having to work your guts off to achieve this dream, the experience itself will feel more earned and deserved – which tends to create a much greater psychological reward.  It’s that tingly feeling of excitement and pride, as you are thrust back into your seat upon take off, about to embark on your adventure, that feels magical because you earned it.  You put your own blood, sweat and tears into making this happen – and that sense of pride will be worth all the hard work.

In terms of saving for travel, there are two approaches; the first is that you start saving the money you currently spend (e.g. spend less on day-to-day living and syphon some of that cash into a savings account).

The second approach is to increase your income.  Whether you get a second job, start selling things on eBay, set up a side hustle, or just do a few odd jobs around your current commitments, such as mowing lawns… this will all propel you into getting to where you want to be much faster than merely reducing the amount you spend day-to-day; however the most effective strategy is a combination of the two.

There is a third approach, which is certainly the path of least resistance, which is to put certain expenses such as flights on a 0% credit card and pay it back over time.

Find Cheap Flights – If you’re looking to travel internationally, flights can take a huge chunk of money from your travel fund.  However, if you can be flexible with your flight dates then searching for cheap flights via comparison engines such as skyscanner that compare hundreds of flights from almost every airline in the world to present you with the cheapest deals for the dates and destinations you are looking for this can save you a ton of cash.

Another factor to consider is being flexible with your departure and arrival airports; and therefore searching for two single tickets rather than a round-trip.  That said, whilst this works well for short hops within places such as Europe, SE Asia or the US – when it comes to long haul travel, e.g. New York to Bangkok it tends to be a lot cheaper to get a roundtrip ticket than two singles; indeed, the round trip can be just a $100 more than a single ticket.  

What you might want to consider doing though, is looking at a wider selection of departure and arrival airports in order to find the best deal; as sometimes we pay so much for the convenience of getting a flight from the nearest airport – that could be spent on much better things, for just an hour or two’s additional journey time.

In summary, the more flexible you can be in terms of time and location, the cheaper the flights you will be able to find.

Work for Your Accommodations – In an ideal world, the majority of us would love to stay somewhere as luxurious as Idube Game Lodge, but for those on a budget accommodation is considered a necessary evil that facilitates their experience; such as going on safari or swimming with dolphins – where they are more focused on the experience than the accommodation.  

Even then, accommodation can be expensive, so one suggestion is to visit a site like workaway that essentially allows you to volunteer for four hours a day (sometimes doing pretty cool things like helping out at an orphanage or elephant sanctuary) and in return they provide free accommodation and a couple of meals a day.

This is not just a cheap and affordable way to travel, it’s a great way to be part of a community and meet other people, travellers and locals alike, whilst making a difference to the community within which you’re visiting – particularly if you were to be volunteering somewhere like an orphanage or animal sanctuary.

In summary, we all tend to have quite extravagant bucket lists that require significant capital in order to turn our dream into reality – but with these three simple principles of saving money for the trip and reducing the cost of your two major expenses; flights and hotels… hopefully, your bucket list travel plans feel much more within your reach.

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