It seems highly unlikely that for a person my age and resources, I have never been outside the country. But indeed, I will only have my first international flight this coming June. Then again, there are a lot of folks who have never set foot outside the Philippines and do not really care. I’d be the same if it hasn’t been a lifelong dream of mine to see Japan.
What are the possible reasons why I never indulged in a trip abroad before? Resources, first of all. I do plan and try to save up but more important things would come up and I’d end up using the money somewhere else. Second, I’m usually not into traveling alone, so when I’d ask someone if they’d like to go, the response I usually get is “I can’t.”
Finally, I decided “To heck with it,” especially after my childhood best friend said she’ll be going to Singapore. Plus, I was so tired of feeling envious and feeling sorry for myself that I thought I’d just go right ahead and buy a ticket. I lucked out and got a sale seat, so instead of spending thousands in the five digit bracket, I only got to spend thousands in the four digit bracket (I hope that hasn’t confused you hehe). Thank God for seat sales and luck.
Now comes another challenge: Budget. Just because I was going with my friend doesn’t mean I’m ok, especially since we’re traveling with her mom, who will most likely foot a huge chunk of the bill. I do want to chip in my share, and I also want to have some money to spend for souvenirs and stuff.
How to do this? My original plan was to set aside some money from my salary. It’s possible, especially if my increase kicks in soon (any day now… *crickets*). However, given that I usually go beyond my budget most months, I don’t think it will work, unless I live on crackers and water until June (I’d be so thin, ugh). I am earning some extra money from my freelance side projects, which was small but if it’s consistent, may just work. So, I brought out my favorite thinking tools — a pen and paper — and got to work.
First, I thought about how much I wanted to save up and when was it due. Of course, since my original goal is to have money to spend, I had to know what I’ll be spending. And since my trip in in June, that meant I had to have my money by the first week of that month at the latest.
Luckily, one of my officemates just went to Singapore. I asked him how much did he spend overall and based my goal on that. He was able to save up on accommodations since he stayed with a friend, and since some of his activities were things I know I won’t be doing (like going to the bars and such), I decided to add about ten percent to his expenses. I had to convert that to Philippine pesos though, from his Singapore dollars.
Next, I listed my existing funds. These are mostly earnings I have from the freelance jobs. I don’t get paid much for those if I look at it individually, but if I break it down to how much I can earn from each job per week, multiply that to the number of weeks I have until I leave, then add it all up, I’d have more than enough to reach my goal.
Lastly, I did some research on the possible expenses. Accommodations, food, tickets to the places I want to go to, transportation and for shopping. I calculated not just my share of the expenses, but the full amount I could spend had I been traveling alone. I’ll only be staying for three days and two nights, but I wanted to make sure that I won’t be scrambling for money (which I’m prone to doing). Luckily, everything seems to fall into place.
The good thing with this is that I don’t need to touch my salary. So long as I am able to consistently perform in my freelance work, I’ll be able to meet my goals. I’m pulling up extra hours after my regular office work, but I think it will be worth it.
I’m also thinking up of other means to add to my funds. I welcome suggestions, as well as financial donations hahaha. Anyway, I look forward to seeing my progress. Wish me luck!
I’d like to give a shout out to Akila and Patrick of The Road Forks whose post about budgeting helped me create some sort of plan for my funds, as well as to my good friend and often travel buddy Anne for another idea on how to save up.