Leisure is a vital part of life. It is essential to take time off work and away from familiar environments to refresh and reenergise. As we build our wealth and manage our finances, we must budget in holidays. This is one of the ways to live longer and enjoy the wealth we are building. Summer holidays are here. Children are home for the long vacation. Before you pack them off to summer school, consider ways in which you can provide fun learning opportunities that the whole family can enjoy together. A holiday outside of familiar environments is very educational, it exposes children to new cultures and broaden their horizons, preparing them for life in the ever-shrinking global village. Sightseeing and learning about new exotic places help them to become better global citizens. But holidays can be expensive, how can we plan for them without putting too big a hole in our pockets? The answer is in the question – plan. A family trip abroad need not be a financial burden if it is planned ahead of time. We are not suggesting borrowing from banks to go on a holiday; that is living above your means.
How then can we plan a holiday on a budget? Choose your holiday destination and start the plan immediately. The time required to carry out the plan depends on how much money is available for you to commit to it without jeopardizing other financial commitments. I have used some interesting ways to save money in the past that resulted in surprisingly large savings. Firstly, open a savings account and ensure you do not have a debit card or mobile banking access for it. In addition to regular direct deposits, use the account to receive e-dividends and other investment incomes. Pay in all gifts, bonuses and discounts; that is any money other than your monthly salary like out-of-station allowance or overtime. If you budget fifty thousand naira for a purchase but you were able to buy it for forty thousand, don’t spend the ten thousand naira as Awoof, pay it into your holiday account. When I used these savings strategies, I was surprised at the amount of money available to put into holidays; in fact, the savings presented holiday upgrade opportunities. Instead of looking for money for holiday, I was looking for additional sightseeing opportunities and fun experiences to upgrade my holidays.
As soon as you have the money, buy your travel tickets because prices become higher the closer the date of travel. Before buying tickets directly from the airline through their websites, browse travel websites and compare prices across several airlines. You would be surprised at the savings available. Do not rule out taking connecting flights as these usually bring down your cost of travel considerably. Connecting flights also present the opportunity for exploration. I once had the delightful opportunity of visiting one of the seven wonders of the world – the Great Pyramid of Giza & the Sphinx, because of a connecting flight through Cairo. I also visited the Vatican and the Colosseum because I chose to have a 6-hour layover in Rome. So, if you have the time, take the advantage. Some travel agents are becoming very innovative, they allow you to book cheap tickets months before your trip and pay for the tickets in instalments. This has been very helpful in enabling many people enjoy nice holidays. However as with every financial transaction, due diligence is required. Ensure the travel agent is reliable, has a good history and online good reviews. Also be clear about the criteria for refunds.
Even hotel prices could be cheaper when booked through travel sites. Compare prices that hotels quote on their websites with those quoted on travel websites. This is true, even for local trips. I discovered that on a trip to Abuja in 2016. The price the hotel quoted for me on arrival (and displayed in their reception) was twelve thousand naira higher per night that the price I got from a travel website. Thank God I had the booking reference from the travel website. We could also compare prices of short-let rooms and apartments on the Air BnB website. For many of us who would not consider hotel stay but prefer to inconvenience family members, a look into offerings on these websites may change our minds because the prices would be friendlier than we expect.
Enjoy a fun-filled summer.