Budgeting for a Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience
Big dreams sometimes take money. What is your perfect once-in-a-lifetime experience? Hot air balloons over the French Countryside? A voyage aboard the Orient Express? A gourmet tour of Southeast Asia? Or hiking the volcanic craters of Hawaii or the peaks of Machu Picchu? When you let yourself daydream, do you yearn for a journey to a faraway place in comfortable American amenities, or do you find yourself seeking an authentic experience immersed deeply in your destination’s local culture? Do you crave an educational experience, like a master class with a great artist or chef you admire? Perhaps you imagine bringing the whole family together for a memorable celebration?
Whatever your ultimate daydream might be, you can prepare for it now. A beautiful memory can last a lifetime, and by starting today, you might just move that once-in-a-lifetime experience from your bucket list onto your calendar.
Do Your Research
To bring a daydream to fruition, at some point you'll need to know where your expectations intersect with reality. Prudent research can prevent your being waylaid by unforeseen circumstances. As an example, let's say you'd like to take your closest friends and loved ones on a cruise to the Caribbean. Where might you want to embark from? Depending on the time of year, a two-week tour starting in New York City, touring the Caribbean, and ending in Ft. Lauderdale may cost about $10,000 per person if you are booking luxury accommodations. You would also need to factor in plane or train fare for each member of the party to get to New York, and to get home from Florida.
Doing your research can help you focus, but it can also be a chance to think bigger before you get practical. This is a chance to let your imagination wander. If you're going to go big, you might as well look into what's possible within your budget.
Plan Your Timing
Tropical parts of the world are known for sunshine. Yet, you may find one season less expensive. Is that because that's when it rains, nonstop? Make sure you're looking at the right time of year for your big event.
In the example of the Caribbean yacht trip, you'd probably have sunshine in mind, so make sure you're planning around the best weather (and cognizant of hurricane season). Holidays that fall between Thanksgiving and New Years are a festive and celebrated time in a city like New York, or you could opt for summer, when there are many outdoor events to enjoy.
Prepare for the Unexpected
Travel and health insurance can be wise to consider. Nobody wants to think about something unpleasant coming up, but it's better to err on the idea of safety. The less you have to worry about, the more you can focus on enjoying your experience. Be sure to understand any travel benefits available from your credit cards, and how those benefits may interact with insurance policies you may purchase.
The "unexpected" might also be something positive that you encounter during your experience. What if you suddenly decided you wanted to stay an extra week? If you're enjoying yourself and you have the means, why not? Again, preparation is key, and setting aside a little extra "fun money" and possibly not booking your return flights so that you can enjoy the moment is one way you can be ready to take advantage of an opportunity or indulge a whim without financial stress. While the scale of extravagance is different for everyone, it's good to always have the ability to shift gears, no matter what opportunity or circumstance presents itself.
Preparing at Home
There are plenty of ways to get ready from home. If your once-in-a-lifetime plans include travel outside of the United States, you will almost certainly need a passport that doesn’t expire soon and to be up on your shots. Make sure to double-check your vaccination records and speak with a medical professional about any precautions they recommend.
Whether or not you speak the languages you may encounter on an overseas trip, it can be helpful to brush up or learn some basic phrases as locals appreciate it when you try speaking their language. New language-learning apps can simplify this process. You can even make it a fun activity for the family if your children or grandchildren are joining you, and practice the phrases together as you look forward to the trip.
Who Can Help?
A "once-in-a-lifetime" experience is something worth doing well. While you’re making wise choices to help maintain your lifestyle through retirement, preparing for things like education and leaving a charitable legacy, your wealth is also to be enjoyed. It's important to remember that while building wealth can grant access to some additional freedoms, money’s value comes not necessarily from its accumulation, but in how it’s used, and as they say, you can't take it with you.
If you've never mentioned your once-in-a-lifetime "big dream" to your financial professional, you might consider doing so. Depending on what you have in mind, they can help you prepare for large expenditures, and may have some resources that can help make it even more achievable. They also need this information to provide you with accurate financial planning advice in other areas. With the funds securely in place and all of your bases covered, you'll be able to focus on your amazing experience and not worry about anything else.
Whatever you're dreaming up, don't let anything hold you back. With some determination, preparation, and willingness to explore, you can manifest a lifelong dream into reality and enjoy the beautiful memories for years to come.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Strategic Financial Planning, Inc. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered legal, investment, or tax advice.