Tips for Planning an Affordable Trip When You’re on a Budget

“I was in a quandary,” Mr. Iyer said. “But finally I decided that it might never be easy to go to Iran, and a war would make it more difficult. And I’d been longing for this trip for 30 years. I had to take the leap and be prepared to shoulder the $8,000 myself if need be.”

How can the rest of us apply this consideration to our own travel dilemmas, which more often involve not being able to afford attending a friend’s bachelorette party or an aunt’s 50th birthday cruise?

Lauren Bowling, a financial expert, said setting specific financial goals can help you assess whether a trip fits into your overall financial picture. “If there’s an immediate goal you’re working for, I think that helps make a decision,” she said, citing, as an example, a plan to buy a home in the first quarter of next year.

She also suggests asking yourself whether staying home will really help you move the needle toward achieving your goals. If there isn’t something specific you are trading the trip for, Ms. Bowling said, you may end up regretting opting out. If you decide not to go, however, she suggests sending along a small gift, such as flowers, which will cost a lot less than the full trip.

For Mr. Iyer, however, saying yes to a trip to a place you’ve never been, even if it means taking a financial risk, is worth more than going into credit card debt for, say, a new couch.

“A trip is much more likely, in my case, to transform me than anything material I would acquire at home,” he said. “And so therefore it’s worth the risk, because the beauty of a trip is I don’t know who’s going to come back from it. And the hope is I’ll be someone quite different from the one who left home.”


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