5 Motivations to Save For Your Big Trip

Ok, I get it. If I forgo my venti non-fat $5 Starbucks latte everyday, I will amass fortunes of great wealth and be able to travel indefinitely.   It seems every budget and saving article has this same advice  – the daily Starbucks habit has become the modern day coupon to clip from spending habits.

What I find most interesting as a traveler, is knowing what that $5 actually means – in real-world terms – to a travel budget and a dream trip.

Knowing this everyday spending-to-travel conversion rate is as essential as knowing the dollars to baht conversion when thinking about saving and budgeting a Big Trip.  This understanding and a well-formed travel vision can motivate action into savings and (Whoa!) make your travel dreams come true.

The most common question I received when traveling around the world for two years was, “How can you afford it?” I paid for it by saying “no” to a lot of things and saying “yes” to what that saved dollar meant for a trip – a camel ride in Egypt and volunteering in India. The first step in motivation to save and sacrifice is knowing what your travel dollar is really worth. I sat down with Tara Russell – a “Life Sabbatical & Long-term Travel Coach”  – of Three Month Visa Coaching and Consulting and she explained to me how a saved dollar has translated into real-life dream experiences for her clients.

“In America, especially in urban centers, we have a warped sense of what normal things cost.” She expands, “That $5 latte can actually mean a whole day of spending in developing countries.” I can relate. Living in San Francisco,  a $50 dinner out with friends every weekend is “normal.” In my experience, just one of those dinners is three days of sweet living in Goa, India –  beach front shack, fresh fish dinner, and some Kingfishers drunk while watching the sun set on the Arabian Sea.

To help you save for your Big Trip, Tara has come up with a very unique and impactful way of translating what the skipped coffee, the cheaper bottle of wine,  and that bypassed impulse Groupon means for your travel dreams.  She’s calculated some of these “saying no to something means saying yes to my travel dreams” conversions for you in this list.

Instead of a Triple Grande Soy Latte and a Fruit Scone at your Local Starbucks ($8.00)



Say Yes to a Hotel Room and Breakfast in Kathmandu, Nepal

Solukhumbu Trail 2010 hotel Gangjong (3)

Photo by akunamatataon Flickr

Instead of a Salad and Drink at Mixt Greens For Lunch

Lettuce library at Mixt Greens - fantastical salad restaurant.
Photo by zcopley on Flickr


Say Yes to One Day on the Annapurna Trail ($15.00)

Grant Assenheimer - Annapurna, Nepal
Photo by pawanpandey on Flickr

Instead of a bottle of Beringer Private Reserve 2008 ($38.00) on Wine.com

Beringer Wine

Say Yes to a Personally Guided 3-hour Lecture Tour of Gion, a popular Geisha District, in Kyoto, Japan

Gion Tour
Photo by Tara Russell


Instead of a 60 minute “Fully-Loaded Facial” at Bliss Spa in San Francisco ($180.00 before tip)

W Fort Lauderdale

Photo by miamism on Flickr

Say Yes to A 5-Day Riverboat Journey into the Brazilian Rainforest

Photo by albertphotograf on Flickr

Instead of Two Tickets at a Movie Theater and a Popcorn ($30.00)

tickets here
Photo by EvelynGiggles on Flickr

Say Yes to a 90 Minute Aromatherapy Massage at The Sanctuary Resort and Spa on Koh Phangan in Thailand

Haad Rin beach, Koh Phangan, Thailand
Photo by victoriapeckham on Flickr

Instead of A Lululemon Tank ($54.00)

(Unless, of course, your dream trip involves a Yoga retreat, then by all means, save for this and that!)
Run Yoga Fusion Class at lululemon West 4th
Photo by Carolyn Coles

Say Yes to Admission to Machu Picchu in Peru

Machu Picchu
Photo by James Wilson on Flickr

Convinced yet? It’s not about deprivation, but choices. Somedays you may choose that bottle of wine or be in desperate need of that facial and that’s OK.  It’s all about having the awareness of what each dollar spent means in terms of saving for your Big Trip.

Just remember what Tara says, “Be really aware of where your money is going and make sure that your spending habits are in line with your values.  If you get really mindful about your finances,

-Your next dream trip might be hiding at the bottom of that latte.”


About Tara Russell

Tara Russell

Tara Russell, CPCC, CDC, is a “Life Sabbatical & Long-term Travel Coach” – a Certified Life and Career Coach with a passion for working with clients who dream of taking time off to travel, live, work, study or volunteer abroad. As the Founder and President of Three Month Visa Coaching and Consulting, her mission is to empower her clients to change their lives (and ultimately the world at large), through meaningful international travel experiences.
Helpful Links

 Photo credit: Photo by epSos.de on Flickr


6 Responses to “5 Motivations to Save For Your Big Trip”

  1. August 11, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    Hi there – great advice — thank you both for this post. I’d add to your adage “it’s not about deprivation, it’s about choices” that choices really come into play for itinerary planning when considering how to plan and pay for a big trip. Some basic rules of thumb that people tend to forget: cities are more expensive than smaller towns, moving around generally costs more (because you can save on longer-term lodging, which comes w/ kitchenette or communal kitchen to avoid eating out), and you can save a bundle by traveling to popular places off season.

    • August 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

      p.s. I meant to say “moving around frequently” as opposed to staying put in one place for weeks or months at a time …

      • August 11, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

        Hi Sarah,

        Excellent points and all so true! Traveling at a slower pace, off-season travel, volunteering / working / studying during your time abroad, etc. All of these things make a HUGE impact on a travel budget and help long-term wanderers stretch their travel dollars over time. (I often speak / present on “Alternatives to Traditional Tourism” and we have a TYBT post to that effect in the works…stay tuned!) 🙂

  2. August 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    That’s good advice and really it applies to everything. I’m not an extravagant person by any means. However, I bought a pair of Prada shoes this year because I love fashion and I love the way you can express yourself with it. I did that by taking the metro everywhere and saying no to taxi rides (amongst other things, of course). It’s not bad to spend money on Starbucks…as long as you’re consciously making the choice that that’s what you’d prefer above other things.

  3. March 13, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    This is such an inspiring post! I have been trying since a long time to get out on a sabbatical but somehow was unable to gather enough momentum to start it. This post will help me for sure.

    • Kristin
      March 13, 2012 at 9:03 am #

      Thank you! let me know how you progress towards your big trip 🙂

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