Dream trip and saving your money

It’s deep midwinter, the fire is flickering, and in the flames you can see your future: a beach in Bali, whales breaching off Alaska, the Namib Desert by moonlight.

It may be a comforting vision when darkness falls at 4pm each day. But first you have to get there.

It’s sensible to start putting away a regular amount out of your income each month. Set up a standing order when your salary lands and you’ll hardly notice the money has gone. Research your trip thoroughly, and use the plethora of travel websites to plan your route. It costs a lot less to book all your flights ahead, and if possible, your accommodation too, even if you may fancy wandering free as a bird.

Budget for each leg of the trip carefully. If you have paid as much ahead as you possibly can, you can then give yourself a daily budget and predict much more accurately what that spend will be.

There are online calculators to help you plan your costs for each country plus the connecting flights, such as this one onwww.savingfortravel.com. Have some fun researching online – these tips from The Guardian don’t only apply to gap year travellers – and browse through the major guides, such as the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide series, which are excellent on budget travel.

Once you have an idea how much it’s all going to cost, then work out how much you can practically save each month. It may involve sacrifices – no concert tickets perhaps for that favourite band, no drinks after work with colleagues, taking a packed lunch to work and giving up that expensive cappuccino you pick up on the way to work. If you take each regular cost and work out what it comes to each year, you will very likely be astonished at how even small amounts add up. That fancy coffee? Just one each working day (taking four weeks’ holiday into account) at £2.10 will come to an astonishing £504. That sandwich at £3.50 a day? Brace yourself. That’s £840 a year. So just by bringing lunch from home and making coffee in the office, you’ve gained £1,344 a year. Just think how far that would take you!

It’s also worth spending some time planning what you are going to pack. A good backpack will be worth its weight in gold, so see which ones get the best reviews before you buy. Seasoned travellers are worth asking for advice: they will each have their recommendations, from head torches (hands free for putting up a tent in the dark) to lightweight microfibre towels.

While you’re away one of the safest ways to pay will be a credit card. Make sure you have made arrangements for the bills to be paid in your absence by setting up a direct debit from your current account. If you’ll be making a lot of payments via credit card, aBarclays purchase credit card could provide the best rates for your spending pattern.

Many countries don’t take debit cards, so credit cards are a widely accepted option. Unless you’re trekking through the Sahara of course. So before you go, apply for a credit card and you couldconsider balance transfer credit cards or one of many other options available in the market (click here for more info on Barclays credit cards).

A credit card may be a good way of spreading your payments, but bear in mind that you will be charged interest if you do not pay off your balance in full, and late or missed payments may mean you lose any promotional rates and affect your credit rating.

This article has been written for information and interest purposes only and should not be construed as advice or used to make financial decisions. Expert financial advice should always be sought and any links contained within this article are included for information purposes only. Links to third party websites are not an endorsement by us of products and services on such websites. You have entered a website owned and operated by and will be subject to their website’s terms and conditions.