Dream, Save and Travel: How I am saving for my next trip

It hasn’t been very long since I have started earning a living on my own. Introduced to this life of financial independence, initially it did feel like “I am the king of the world”. I did what any new earner would do: ate where I wanted, bought what I liked, in short SPENT IT ALL. With time raises came my way and led to more spending than saving. I realized I have turned into a shopaholic. With merely no savings in hand, often I struggled to pay for my travels; took loans and supports from my mom. I had successfully drowned myself in humongous credit card bills and debts. Not until recently did I finally manage to cut down my expenses, planned it right and now saving fairly enough to finance my travels. I would not say I am a shinning star in this, but I am trying and putting baby steps towards saving. Here is how I am doing it.

Decide where you are going

Place sets a goal. Post a picture on your desk or even as your laptop background at work. I carry a picture of it in my wallet to remind myself that I am en route to this beautiful place. This stops me from useless expenditure.

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Set a date

Give your yearning a time frame. Setting up this alarm will prepare your mind with a plan on how to reach your saving goal within time.

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Give yourself a figure

Find out an approximate cost plan for your upcoming trip. Do some research, read blogs, search online or even ask people who have been there already. Once you have an approximate number in your head, you know how much to put away from your earning or allowance.

Put money away

Money that you have not seen will not call you to be spent. Put a portion away before it comes in your hands. You could open a separate account for only travel savings. You can get one of those monthly deposit schemes if you wish to plan a year ahead and save over a longer period of time.

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Make yourself a money jar

Money jars are the modern version of piggy banks and for us Bengali an updated version of our very own “maatir bank“. What I like about making something like this is the excitement of filling it up as soon as I can. Add a picture of your destination on the jar. This will also set a visual reminder for you in your room. Come on now, get creative!

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Pay off your credit card bills

Now this is a mistake I made- piling up my credit card bills with hopes to pay it tomorrow. But that tomorrow took a while to come. Before anything clear your bills. Piling it up for months will not only add on a good extra charge/interest but will also be tough on you with the large amount of money you will need to pay at one go. Stop procrastinating, be free of debts.

Pile-of-Credit-Cards-007  paying-bills-late

Minimizing added expenditures

The place where I am from does not have many places for people to meet except restaurants and cafés. I realized a lot of my money went downhill with restaurant bills. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not motioning towards saying “don’t go out or eat out with friends”. What can be done is to find a way to minimize this added expenditure. May be you do it twice a month. I know many of you reading may term this as “cheap”. But if you have set your mind and goal in traveling and are independent with a minimum fixed income, I am sure this will make sense to you. There is no shame in trying to save to live your dream.

Stop going to shopping malls

Now this is something I am working on as well. Truth be spoken I am a spender myself. I have recently unfollowed so many online shopping sites/pages, just to keep my mind away from seeing things and ending up ordering them. Now if you are a shopaholic like me, this will take some time. Be determined. Remind yourself each day how beautiful that destination must be. What you have not seen will not lure you into buying it.

Although there are times I splurge on to get rid of depressions or just honestly because I cannot help it. I do buy gifts for my family because that is something I will never give up no matter how hard it gets for me. They are the reason I am able to even dream of traveling. Hence when it is for them, no compromises.

Gifts on saving

If your family and friends know about the travel bug in you, another option may be to ask them to give you money instead of the next shalwar kameez,punjabi or saree they are planning to buy for you. While I know that this may sound weird and may look like I am stooping low, but if you are really into saving every bit you can I see no reason why you cannot opt for this. These are the people who are closest to you. If they don’t understand, support or encourage you, I don’t know who else will.

Focus on your goal and stay inspired by travel

It is very easy to derail from this plan of financial organization. Trick is to stay inspired. Go through photos on Instagram or Pinterest. Keep reminding yourself about what lies ahead of this struggling times.

The art of saving does not come naturally to many of us. This process of saving up is quite a struggle. But I am reminding myself each day and night of the reward I may get at the end of this. Travel does reward you in the most divine ways. The more effort you put in, the more you will get out of it. I hope these tips and tricks will bring some contribution to your travel plans. Please share your tips and ways with me in the comment section below. Until next time, Ciao Bella!

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Images of this post have been downloaded from Google and Tumbler. 

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Lost in picturesque Venice

As the airplane took a turn on the red toned sky of the early dawn, I looked outside through my tiny window and gushed. Beneath was the city of my dreams floating ever so beautifully on blue glistening water. There it was Venezia leaving me too spellbound to even click a photo. An overly excited, slightly nervous jumpy me finally set foot in Venice on May 23, 2016 at 7.20am local time.

To me Venice was a beautiful painting that changed into an even prettier one every other minute I crossed an alley. A maze of cobbled pathways,  historical buildings and mesmerizing public squares all placed on islands fragmented with canals and linked with  bridges.

With a heart filled with memoirs from Venice and some lust to go back to this beautiful piece of heaven soon again, here I am writing my first blog post. While it took me some time to get out of this cocoon of mine and enter the world of blogging, I cannot be happier that it is about something I love dearly. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I loved putting it together. Okay then, here it goes. My insight on a budget stay in Venezia, Italy.

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A colorful maze of alleys, bridges and canals …

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…that lead to such breathtaking views of the “waterscape”

Flying to Venice
From Dhaka I took an Etihad flight of +12hours to reach the Marco Polo airport of Venice via Abu Dhabi. The multi-city return air ticket cost me approximately BDT  65,000. Turkish Airways and Qatar Airway fly  to Venice too. My preference was the Turkish one with a transit in Istanbul 🙂 but the prices had gone too high. TIP: Book your flights EARLY and save a tonne!

Beautiful Venezia

Doge’s Palace, Palazzo Ducale
Now a museum, the Venetian Gothic styled Doge’s palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice. It cost around €25 to go in and tour the entire palace. The line was too long and also for the price, I didn’t go in.

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The oldest part of  Doge’s Palace facing the Grand Canal

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Venetian Gothic influences

Saint Mark’s Basilica and Piazza San Marco
Architecture, ornamental details, history and art. Go there just to stare. Admission is free in the Basilica.

The place I fell in love with is Piazza San Marco. Be it for the scale and openness of the space, the people, the beautiful music coming from the orchestra of the restaurants or just the pigeons, this place has its own charm and power to captivate. Take your time to twirl around the square, watch people, enjoy the music or just run among the pigeons. I spent more than half a day here and I wish I stayed longer. TIP: Try to get there early morning before the tourists arrive.

IMG_20160526_083657The gorgeous St Mark’s Basilica at Piazza San Marco. And oh that’s me posing  a little 🙂

 

Bridge of Sighs
The closed bridge is a connection between the Doge’s Palace and the new prison used for taking convicts to the prison. It is said the prisoners would sigh at their last sight of Venice from this bridge and hence named the Bridge of Sighs.

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Rialto Bridge
It is the oldest bridge on the Grand Canal with tourist shops and restaurants all around it. Beautiful to take photos on and around it. Unfortunately while I was there Rialto bridge was under maintenance. Hence I do not have any pictures to post. I ate a “luxury” meal in a restaurant around it.

Walking around Venezia with no time limits or hurry

Wander away for a day

 

The Basics

Hotels VS Hostels
Venice can be a bit on the expensive side if you want to stay on the island itself. Price ranges from BDT 60,000 to 20,000 per night for the starred hotels in and  around  San Marco. However there are alternatives! Hostels, camps and rented apartments cost one third or less than hotels. Living around Venice in places such as Padua, Margehra, Mestre, etc which are 40 minutes away from Venice can save you a fortune.

On trips like this I just need a place to crash at night and a hygienic toilet(!). Hence I stayed at a camp named Camping Village Jolly at Marghera  which cost me as low as BDT 1200 per night for a twin share room with attached toilet. That is even cheaper than Bangladesh and the place can be compared to a 3 star here!

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Here is a view of Camping Village Jolly… On the right is our bungalow

Cheap accommodation can easily be booked on sites such as Booking.com, Agoda.com, etc.  There is also Airbnb that will help you in saving by staying with the locals at their house.  Now that is an experience I will be discussing  soon.

No roads, No cars
Venice is not accessible by cars, buses and taxis, with the exception of the road to the port and to Piazzale Roma. It is a lagoon city with water-buses, vaperetto, water-taxis, gondolas instead. If you are here for a week or commuting to Venice, I suggest you get the ACTV transport pass. One card is valid for both buses and water-buses. Below are the approximate prices of the transport pass that will help you compare:

  • A one way ride: €7 (can be used only once!)
  • 3 day pass: €20-€22
  • 7 day pass: €60

To tell you the truth, Venice is a city you would want to walk and see. So walk away, my love. You are sure to get lost but don’t be afraid… enjoy this as it will take you to alleys that will pleasantly surprise you. To a beautiful little corner that you perhaps  had never known existed. Venice is safe, trust me on that. And there are of course signs with arrows pointing major tourist hubs. TIPS: Wear comfortable shoes. Bus or no bus, be sure to walk a lot.

Eat, Pray, Love
Simple words – Gelato, Paasta, Pizza, Tiramisu. There I said it plain and straight. Don’t come back without trying a gelato. Just don’t.
Tip: Carry water in a bottle. Drink from tap waters or water fountains. Water bottles cost €2!
Tip: Avoid eating in touristy places and piazzas such as San Marco, Rialto bridge, Giardini, etc. Explore a little, go inside the alleys, ask where locals eat. Not only will you save around €5-€8 per meal, you will also get to taste the real food. A fresh and cozy Italian meal.

The epic Tiramisu in a garden restaurant under green canopy

Venice, a city that came into existence with people seeking refugee from other distressed Roman inland, now stands proudly as one of the most gorgeous cities of the world. Pictures don’t do justice. Words fail to describe it. I had been day dreaming about Venice since I was in school. And finally I was there. Days like these give hope that there is probably nothing wrong with dreaming a little. I cannot thank God enough for bringing this dream of mine to life. I would love to hear about yours in the comment section below.

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