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There is nothing I like more than traveling to a new destination. Whether it’s by car, train, or plane, I love leaving “normal” life behind and exploring a city or country that is different from my own.
When I first started traveling, I found super creative ways to fund my adventures. Whether it was getting a job in a foreign country, getting a scholarship for a study abroad, or applying for grants for international projects, I was all about other people paying for my trips. While some of the same options no longer apply now that I am graduated, employed, married, and have a kid, the same overarching idea applies – I want to have the money to go where the wind takes me. And I want as much of it as possible to come from sources beyond my own bank account.
Which means I need a travel fund. By definition a travel fund is a separate account that is dedicated solely to travel expenses. It is what allows you to take that trip of your dreams without causing havoc to your normal budget. And just where does that account come from? Here’s a quick look at how to create a travel fund.
Step One: Set Up A Separate Account
There is an unfortunate law to money – if it is sitting in your regular checking account, there will arise a reason to spend it. Whether it’s fixing the car, splurging on an expensive meal, or paying a medical bill, money that sits in your normal checking/savings account will eventually find a new home.
For this reason, it is imperative that you set up a separate account for your travel fund. Ideally this account is not accessible by ATM (i.e. not quite as easy to spend) and is earning you as high a rate of interest as possible (getting back to the having other people pay for your vacations whenever possible). My personal favorite travel fund account is through Capitol One 360. It’s free, ridiculously easy to set up online, and you can set up multiple sub accounts (i.e. a travel fund, an emergency fund, a college fund, etc.) that remain separate from one another. Since it’s an online bank, it also offers much better interest rates than your traditional brick and mortar institution. Which makes it much more fun to watch your balance grow month by month.
Want to give your travel fund an initial boost? As a special offer, if you sign up here for a (free) Capitol One 360 account through this link, you’ll get a $25 bonus!
There are a couple different ways that you can fund your travel account. The first, traditional, way is to set up an automatic transfer from your regular checking account. This way, a set amount of money of your choosing is automatically transferred into your account on a weekly (or monthly) basis. The best thing about an automatic transfer is that you can set it and forget it. You don’t have to “remember” to do the transfer and you’re not tempted to spend that money elsewhere. It just regularly shows up in your (Capitol One) travel fund.
An automatic transfer is a great way to make sure that your travel fund is growing on a regular basis. However, as I mentioned above, I am all about other people putting money into my travel fund. Which means I like to have other sources of funds that don’t come from my paycheck.
My three favorite sources are Ibotta, Ebates, and Discover. Ibotta is an app that I use every time I go grocery shopping. First I look on the app to see what cash back offers are available (such as 50 cents on a loaf of bread or a dollar for a gallon of milk). Then, once I’ve made my purchases, I redeem all my offers either by snapping a photo of my receipt or, even better, linking my loyalty card for automatic awards. Once I’ve hit $50-100, I like to transfer it straight into my travel fund.
Want to give your travel fund a boost? If you click here, you can qualify for a $10 sign up bonus.
For online shopping, my cash back source is Ebates. Ebates in an online platform that offers you cash back on all your purchases. Need to buy something on at your favorite store? Simply go through Ebates and Ebates will give you a percentage of your purchase back. In cash. Which I happily put in my travel fund.
Want to give your travel fund a boost? Sign up here and you can qualify for a $10 sign up bonus.
For everyday purchases, my favorite cash back source is my Discover card. Discover has a 1% cash back on every purchase, with a special 5% cash back on certain categories (such as grocery shopping or gas stations) every 3 months. That means I get cash back on every single purchase that I make, no matter what it is. And to make it even better, new members receive a cash back match on every dollar you earn for the first 12 months – with no limit. That means if you earn $500 in cash back during your first year, Discover will give you another $500. Free.
I don’t know about you, but that’s a lovely travel fund.
And just to sweeten the deal (and your travel fund), if you sign up for a Discover card here, you can qualify for a $50 bonus.
Step 3: Spend It
Once you have built your travel fund, it’s time to pick a destination! You can plan your trip with confidence knowing that you have put aside the money you need to enjoy every moment.
And who knows. With all the spending you do while planning, you just might start earning money for your next trip.
Do you have any secrets to creating your travel fund? Share them in the comments below!