Budgeting for Travel
Currently, we are a one-income, five-person family. We have two adults, two four-year-olds, and one little baby under one year old. The odds for traveling are stacked against us, you could say. However, traveling is something that my husband and I really love and that we want our kids to experience. Moreover, we want to experience it all together while our kids are young enough to still want to be with us rather than wishing they were home with their friends!
We decided if we wanted to travel, we had to make it a priority. It was time to proactively plan and save. Recently we hired a babysitter (we've learned any kind of budgeting or planning "meeting" while home with the kids is basically worthless) and spent two hours at Starbucks daydreaming our ideal travel scenarios and annual savings required. We realized that our ideal was within reach but would require targeted saving and cutting back in other areas. We identified Netflix, haircuts, monthly groceries/home items, and lunches at work as areas where we could save.
I would say finances are my number one anxiety source. I am always surprised by how much satisfaction and comfort I get from having a budget meeting. It's not comforting because we suddenly discover millions of dollars (I wish!). I feel we are being proactive in tackling this stressor. It also reminds us that we are a team and have very similar values. Many of our budgetary decisions are based in our goal to live a choiceful, slower life. This feels very satisfying and assuages my Type-A tendencies.
At the end of our meeting, our "ideal" travel plan looked something like this: (Note: We did not incorporate trips to visit family at this time; these are more "vacations" rather than "trips.")
1) Single night "staycations" twice a year for my husband and me. This would likely involve a babysitter one time and the use of grandparents as sitters another time.
2) Family Vacations: One 1-2 night stay close by; one 3+ night stay slightly farther away. These will likely primarily be driving trips for the next few years. This year we are hoping to visit a local beach for 1-2 nights and try D.C. for 3 nights (two full days).
3) "Large" International/Far Distance Trip every 2-3 years (Europe/Hawaii/etc.)
4) Couples trip every 2-3 years (ideally we would love this to be every year but know it's not feasible due to cost and childcare needs).
After brainstorming we did some research on costs of hotels, flights, etc. to estimate what we would need to save each year and month to reach these goals. If we're succesful in our savings, hopefully we will be traveling with our crew a little more in the coming years!