A 2013 Philippine Statistic Authority study says that around 9.4 million Filipinos aging fifteen and up traveled within the country for leisure in 2012. That number sounds like a lot of people. But in fact, that is just barely 15% of that age group, and not even 10% of the country’s total population. Roughly 85% of Filipinos stay within their home and work vicinities all year long. For Filipinos, traveling usually means visiting relatives. Leisurely vacations are something we rarely give priority to.
We all know how Filipinos crave adventure and excitement. Heck, if given a chance, most of us would instantly leap off our work desks and head to our dream destinations in an instant. Then what’s stopping us? –Most people if not too busy with work, just can’t afford spending money outside the necessities. This is especially true for breadwinners, single parents and working students. With all the problems we have going on, who has time and money to go on vacations?
In reality, the more problems we have the greater need we have for a vacation. Taking a break every once in a while, improves productivity by lessening our chances of burning out. In fact, there is an article published by Forbes that talks about this. Travel vacations if planned for and strategically taken can refresh creativity and spark dormant positive energies inside of us. By being far away from stressors that remind us of problems at work or home we get to focus on the more beautiful things in life. This is very essential especially for families in conflict. It gives time for discussions that are just always better when done on a scenic background.
Nonetheless, for some, saving up for that holiday may still seem impractical if not impossible. However, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a celebrity’s paycheck to travel! The good news is there are a handful of tricks you can try to save enough money for the journey. And if you’re already convinced, here are some suggestions to start you up on that dream vacation: Know where you want to go.
You may not have that dream spot just yet or maybe you’re just scouting around some locations. The important thing to consider is always the purpose. If you’re looking for a romantic trip for two, then consider things that you and your partner would enjoy doing together. This goes well for family outings as well, where you find places where the family can enjoy as a whole. Soul searching is a different story, it depends on your personality. Me, I like thinking and reflecting on stuff, so a quiet and easy trek or a secluded island getaway is perfect for me.
Once you know your location. Research the rates on lodging, transportation, food and other applicable expenses. From there you’ll know how much you’ll actually need for the trip and back.
START A VACATION FUND
For those who maintain a budget, simply allocating a portion to a vacation fund is the way to go. But the truth is most Filipinos don’t keep budget plans. So before anything else, create one. List all your expenses down. Start with those that are not so flexible like rent, transportation, and tuition fees.
From there list down budget for things that could be adjusted like, leisure, food and utilities. I include utilities as flexible because you can actually control it by cutting down on electricity or water usage. The same goes for food. You don’t really have to eat less, but maybe a habit of eating cheaper can be adopted. You may even totally remove leisure from the budget or at least reduce it largely.
You may get the savings from these bits and pieces of adjustments on the budget. Remember though, that saving for emergencies is of a higher priority. Avoid trouble by saving up for unexpected instances.
Include a target amount and a projected feasible number of days to complete it. This will track your progress and how well you are following your saving plan.
CREATE A SEPARATE VACATION BUDGET PLAN
Create a separate budget plan specifically for the vacation. This will help you avoid overspending as well as under allocating funds. Draw up an itinerary, then add up all the associated expenses including airfare, lodgings, food, airport fees, guided tours, equipment rentals—you name it. When saving up for a vacation, it’s better to err on the side of overestimating your costs rather than underestimating them. There’s nothing worse than landing at your destination, only to find out three days later that you don’t have enough cash for a taxi. For family outings, get everybody’s input as to how much should be allocated per head.
ELIMINATE IMPULSE BUYING
Impulse buying in general, is bad. I cannot stress it more, but impulse buying destroys your budget. Focus on your priority. Would you rather get that macchiato today or maybe those shoes you saw online than head out to that beautiful island you’ve always wanted to go to? I don’t think so.
Stick to the budget, and the first step to this is always discipline.
START A SMALL BUSINESS
If you’re in a hurry to get to have that pampering miles across from home, I suggest you get extra sources of income. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You can unload your unused items at a garage sale, or take advantage of a special skill of yours by selling homemade cookies or writing freelance. The point is to do something small but manageable so that you can make extra money on the side. This isn’t just a great way to save for vacations; watching your earnings grow from doing something you love can also be a real confidence booster!
EAT OUT LESS
This applies both at home and on the road. Planning and cooking your own meals at home can save you a ton of money compared to dining out all the time. Is time your biggest issue? Look online for easy, idiot-proof recipes you can prepare the night before. When on vacation, you can save money by avoiding the pricey tourist restaurants and scoping out the spots frequented by locals instead.
GO OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
If you’re the kind who was born on the thrifty side (like me), and you think expensive getaways may just lead to more stress and guilt. Then, instead of going for the mainstays like Boracay or Baguio; look for less well-known places that are just as fun to visit. There are several inexpensive vacation spots around the Philippines which can leave you more pocket money for fun activities and cute souvenirs. You may even uncover some hidden gems destined to become tomorrow’s hotspot!
Keep in mind that it isn’t where you go; it’s who you’re with. Cliché as it is, a vacation’s value is not measured on how sosyal it was but on how lovely and memorable it is.
FIND OTHER THRIFTY TRAVELERS
In some cases, traveling with a group can be an effective way to bring your costs down. Look for travel packages that offer group discounts. Gather your friends or round up the whole family. Pool your funds.
If you’re traveling solo or with a partner, you can use websites like Airbnb or Couchsurfing to find budget-friendly lodgings.
Remember that it’s not how much you spend on a trip that matters; it’s how much you get out of it. A vacation is an investment that is not just meant for fun, but also for exploration, discovery, and growth. Experience is something more expensive than any material thing the same amount of money can buy. So if you are still hesitant, I suggest you ask yourself why? Don’t you think you deserve that life living moment? Cut yourself some slack and start spending time and money on memories that no store can sell you.
And lastly on a bit different note, taking a more practical approach to your spending can serve plenty of benefits aside from being able to save up for that future vacation. Once you make a habit out of budgeting, you can save up for other long-term goals (like education or retirement) in no time at all. For now, nothing beats the sense of accomplishment you get from having earned that lavish holiday all on your own.
About the Author:
Jeff Lizardo is a marketing associate for MoneyMax.PH, the Philippines’ leading financial comparison site where you can save money by comparing financial and car insurance products and services – fast, comprehensive, and free. He’s a writer, an entrepreneur and a music enthusiast. Follow him @JeffersonLizard.
*Photo Credit: Jeff Lizardo