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When I was in grade 8, I made a list of things I wanted to do in my life. Interestingly, a lot of the things on my list included travel – of course, Machu Pichu was on my list; so was climbing the Everest and visiting Borneo.

 I have ticked off some on my list – visit all the continents (technically I have not gone to Antarctica but I have been to the southernmost tip of Chile which comes very close to the Antarctic Circle); skydiving (not as a solo champion, but one tandem jump); done white water rafting (in Rishikesh and not in the Amazon river as I had wished). 

Now if I really do want to visit the Amazon region I need to hurry before the entire region burns down. If you have been dreaming of getting multiple booklets of your passport and many stamps to fill it from all over the world, you need to stop dreaming and start doing!

While travelling in your dreams is easy, in real life, you need money for travel. You don’t want to go on your dream island holiday and keep counting the price of every coconut-based cocktail you drink or every shrimp you devour. You want to be able to recover from your flight with a relaxing spa day without mentally converting the local currency into rupees to see what it is costing you. 

You also want to be able to tip the wait staff generously so that you don’t come across as stingy. Money should be the last thing on your mind while you are on holiday – after all, a holiday is all about getting away from stress, not creating more of it!

Unless you are independently wealthy, the only way to have a stress-free dream holiday is to plan for it.

Here is how I am planning for and investing for a 25-day holiday to Australia and New Zealand.

1. Destination

When planning for your travels, you start with the destination. Figure out where you want to go and when – it could be this winter or it could be next April or it could be two years down the line. Get a fix on your destination and work backwards. I want to travel at the end of this year and have been planning for it for two years now and have another few months to go for my holiday – approximately 30 months of planning. 

2. Research

Research about where you want to go. I joined a travel group on social media for tips, especially in terms of costs. My friend Niyamant did the same trip last year with her husband. It cost her about ₹7 lakh for both of them. I have her itinerary to help me, but I will need to tweak it to suit my interests. 

The costs will also vary owing to inflation and the fact that my daughter will also be accompanying us. Broad expenses to cater for are airfare, accommodation (homestays over hotels), food, local transportation (hiring a self-drive or taxis) and entertainment. Entertainment includes clubbing, adventure activities, admission costs at places of interest. 

When picking where to stay, don’t compromise on safety for saving a little, especially if you are travelling solo or with an only girl group. You need to stay connected at all times (it’s a necessity and don’t try to cut on costs here) – so phone cards and data costs need to be looked at. 

Insurance also costs money and is crucial on a foreign holiday ( do ensure you insure yourself and trip, may not be sensible to avoid this to save a few hundred rupees) – you should probably take a policy that also includes air evacuation. The amount of insurance and cover you should take varies from destination to destination, for instance, you should probably take a higher cover while travelling outside of Asia.

3. Get real

Now that we (my husband and I) know what it will cost us, it is time for us to get real. We have a goal to save for and we need to tighten the belt for it. Over the past months, we have been trying to live within our planned budget. Unnecessary spending, I am sorry to report still happens, but not too often. We make a shopping list before going out and try to stick to it. 

As a family, we keep strict accounts of expenditure and though it was difficult in the early months, now it is a habit. We are trying to embrace the idea of minimalistic living. This transition to a minimalistic lifestyle has not only left me with more money in hand but also makes me feel good that I am playing my role in sustainable living. 

4. Create that travel fund

To get to our money goal, we set up a dedicated SIP account. This is distinct from other investments and savings. Your emergency fund, your special occasions fund, your retirement fund and your house fund – these cannot be put on hold for your travels. 

If your goal is ₹5 lakh for the ultimate holiday to mark your 30th birthday in two years time, you can use the goal calculator in the Basis app that tells you how much you need to save every month. Basis offers you a feature on the app where you can not only figure out this amount, but you can also pick from the best instruments on offer to maximise your investments. Remember, a SIP in a mutual fund will grow at a better rate than a regular savings account or bank fixed deposit. 

We are quite close to our holiday now. Watch out for my pics from the Middle World (yes, I will be going where they shot Lord of the Rings)!

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