No matter how much you love the thousands of shopping malls in Singapore, you’ve got to admit that this tiny island gets claustrophobic at times.
That could be why Singaporeans travel so much—significantly more than the global and regional average. After all, who wants to spend every single holiday at Sentosa?
The amazing thing is that Singaporeans are some of the world’s most frequent travellers despite having some of the least mandatory annual leave. That means we travel every chance we get! Here’s how you can plan and budget for your trips next year.
Commit to keeping a travel fund and decide how much it should be
I have friends who take short trips almost every month, but don’t bother budgeting their trips at all. So long as they have the money in the bank to finance these trips, they’re good to go.
These are also the people who then complain about how they can’t get rid of the balances on their credit cards, or face cash flow issues at the end of the month.
If you want to travel, you’re going to have to budget for it. Decide how much you’re willing to spend on travel each year, and then work out how many trips you can afford to take and where.
Once you’ve worked out how much you need to save, you can then start building up your travel fund. Dip into the travel fund and not your regular savings when you go on holiday and you’re less likely to overspend.
Let’s say you plan to take four trips in a year—one each quarter, comprising three short getaways and one longer trip. Here’s what your fund might look like:
- Trip to Tokyo (two weeks): $2,000
- Trip to Bangkok (4 days): $500
- Trip to Bali (4 days): $500
- Trip to Penang (4 days): $350
Total to be saved: $3,350
Start adding cash to your travel fund
If you’ve actually bothered to add up how much all your holidays are going to cost, you may have realised that it’s a lot scarier to view your expenses all at one go than it is to spend as you go.
If you knew how much you spent on all your holidays last year, you might finally have the answer to the age-old question “where did all my money go”.
Now that you know how much you need to save, you also know what you have to sacrifice in order to finance your trips. Without a budget, the first thing we tend to sacrifice when we need a holiday tends to be savings—not cool.
Here are some things you can do to build up your travel fund:
- Downgrade your existing luxuries. If your current hairdresser whom you visit every 3 months charges you $100 per cut, switching to a stylish who charges $30 will save you $70 each time, or $280 a year—enough for an air ticket to Bali. If you spend $100 a month on manicures and pedicures, do your nails on your own and you free up $1,200, which can buy you that plane ticket to London.
- Get rid of subscriptions or memberships you don’t need. Sure, it’s nice to belong to a fancy gym where lots of fit, attractive people work out. But do you really want to pay $2,000 a year for that privilege when you can work out in your neighbourhood for free, and go on a trip to Tokyo with that money instead?
- Downsize your monthly budget. You might have given yourself a monthly budget of $2,000 in order to accommodate luxuries like clothes shopping, eating out every day and the occasional spa treat. But if you downsize your budget to $1,500 a month, you save a whopping $6,000 a year.
Be realistic about the holidays you can take
I see a whole lot of fancy holidays on my Facebook feed right about now, as many Singaporeans try to use up their annual leave before the New Year.
And it seems like there are a lot of people out there who are happy to spend on pricey vacations to Switzerland, New York and even Iceland. However, I’m willing to bet that many of these people have no idea how much they spent on travel this year.
Thinking about where you want to go at the beginning of the year rather than leaving things to chance forces you to give yourself a reality check. The fact is that we can’t all be flying to LA four times a year.
If you want to travel more frequently, you might have to be content with shorter, cheaper trips to nearby countries. Conversely, if you want to take that epic road trip down the West Coast of the United States, you might have to make up for it by travelling less next year.
Those people on your Facebook feed might give you the impression that ski trips and European shopping sprees are the norm. But I promise you that at least a few of them are actually up to their necks in credit card debt. And that’s even less cool than spending your holidays at Sentosa.
How many holidays are you planning to enjoy next year? Tell us in the comments!