This is the third and final post of our series on travel. If you missed the first and second posts, please check them out at: traveling part one: before departure and traveling part two: during the trip.
You’re finished, now what?
KJ & AJ: Now that you’re back and you have officially planned and completed your travel goal, what’s next? Well first for us is always catching up on e-mails, snail mail, and addressing items we had been putting off until our return. We tend to go all-in on vacation, so the coming back part is always tough. It takes us a few days to settle back into making meals at home and not indulging every minute of the day but when we do settle down, we re-focus our attention and get back to work.
Take a final inventory
You spent months planning your trip but great travelers and savers don’t walk away from a trip until a full check-up has been completed.
Did you finish where you wanted from a financial perspective? Of course you’re relaxed, happy, possibly tan, but were you over budget? Were you under budget? We mentioned in our last post (traveling part two: during the trip) that we monitor our budget closely each day as we progress along our trip because it is helpful perspective (but that method doesn’t work for everyone). If you’re not tracking as you go, now it’s time to dig your heels in, sort your receipts, check your credit card statement and start analyzing.
Leverage your planning for your next destinations
Hopefully you were under budget, but either way, there’s always a take-away for your next trip on what you could do better or differently. If you spent half of your budget on things you didn’t plan for (cabs for long hikes you underestimated, bottles of water at every tourist trap, meals at super trendy spots, etc), maybe it’s time to designate a trip planner within your group who helps anticipate and map out the trip (down to buying cases of water at the grocery store and mapping out a route with places to sit and rest). You don’t have to specifically list each of these items, but simply being aware that these extra costs may arise speaks volumes for how prepared you are for the unexpected and how you can manage around it when it does happen. Analyze which budget categories you were over on and which you were under on to help you plan for your next trip. It’s so much easier to do this when it’s still fresh on your mind than a year later when you’re ready to plan your next big rendezvous. Try not to fret about the nitty gritty details of why you had that extra drink, but try to at least keep good enough records to know how you ended up, so you can keep that information in mind for your next journey. The more you plan, the better you can plan, and the more you can fit those “must have” expenses into each trip. Be creative!
Have some wiggle room
The best kind of vacation for us is always one where we’re under budget and have a little extra left over to take care of small things we’ve been putting off buying. Not splurging on every meal might mean buying new patio furniture or spending a great night out with friends once you’re back home. We love to enjoy every bit of our vacation to the fullest but over planning by a small margin allows us a little breathing room when we’ve underestimated expenses and allows us a little slush fund when we’re acclimating back to everyday life.
What happens after you get back from your trip and (hopefully) don’t have anything trip-related left to pay off (since you planned well and saved prior taking your trip, right?)? For us, we keep moving down the list of future goals and adjust the savings we were previously putting towards the trip monthly into buckets that meet other priorities. Most trips for us are many months in the planning and we’re constantly looking forward to what we’re going to do while on the trip without considering fully the time after we return. Coming back to reality is sometimes tough. Paying bills, running errands, doing yard work, etc aren’t always things that make you want to immediately snap back into focusing on watching what you spend but refocus your efforts on the greater good and dig your heels back into planning.
Plan your next trip
Just because you just got back from an amazing trip doesn’t mean you should feel guilty about planning the next one (regardless of how far off it is). See what’s next on your bucket list and what it will take to get there. Maybe it will be six months from now or maybe it will take a couple years to get there, but planning early leads to success. The further out you plan, the more ahead you can get provided you maintain the discipline to stay on track! Years ago we started a list of places we both want to visit. It’s really more of a list of countries than it is cities or actual locations but when we’re in need of a getaway it’s a good reminder of places we’ve always wanted to go. Continue to dream and think about your next adventures. Dreaming and thinking about your future keeps you young and spry, so dream on!
- How do you plan for your trips?
How did you adjust your saving to get to that goal?
Tell us about the joy (or struggle) you had in accomplishing that goal.
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