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5 ways to reduce financial stress and anxiety while traveling

Vacations can be stressful. Here’s how to make sure yours is smooth sailing.

9 min read

Vacations are meant to be relaxing, but anyone who’s been on a holiday knows that that’s not always the case. From unexpected surprises, to poor planning and overspending, there are plenty of opportunities for things to get a little stressful. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to avoid financial stress and other uncomfortable situations while on a trip. Here are 5 essential tips to help you relax and get the most out of your well-deserved vacation.

1. Avoid financial stress with a travel budget

If you don’t have a solid overview of your finances, your bank account balance can be a constant source of anxiety. It’s time to learn how to budget—especially if you’re planning a trip. 

Traveling involves many different expenses. Without proper planning, this can easily lead to overspending. That’s why creating a solid budget can:

  • Empower you to make well-informed financial decisions.
  • Encourage you to reach your savings goals.
  • Help you feel more in control of your money—and your life.

So, why not try out budgeting today? Here are some tips to help you get started.

Calculate your monthly income

The first step to creating a budget is to work out how much money you have coming into your account every month. If you have a regular salary, this means making a note of your net income and adding any additional income to it. Additional channels of income could include:

  • Any freelance wages
  • Government benefits
  • Tax bonuses
  • Passive income streams

Track your monthly expenses

After you track your income, you’ll now need to take a look at where your money goes each month. A great way to do this is to add up all of your expenses over a 30-day period. Once you know how much is coming in versus going out each month, you can see whether you’re spending more than you make (deficit) or making more than you spend (profit). Ideally, you want to be making more than you spend. If your numbers don’t quite line up yet, don’t worry. We’ve got more ways to help you get your budget under control.

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Split your expenses into fixed and variable costs

Now that you’ve got a solid overview of your monthly expenses, split these into fixed and variable costs. What are fixed and variable costs?

  • Fixed costs—all monthly costs that are regular, repeated, and difficult to change (i.e. rent, utility bills, and loan repayments).
  • Variable costs—all monthly costs that change from month-to-month, which are more sporadic and easier to adjust (i.e. groceries, gym membership, and transport costs).

Cut back on costs

To identify areas where you could save, start by targeting your variable costs, as these are generally the easiest to change. This could mean reducing how often you eat out, canceling some non-essential subscriptions, and walking or biking to work rather than using public transport. 

In some cases, it might also be possible to cut back on fixed costs like rent and utilities. To save money on rent, try advertising for a roommate or offering your home out for short-term rental on a website like AirBnB. You can also save money on electricity and other utilities by reducing the amount of energy you use at home. 

Work out how much you want to save each month

One of the easiest budgeting models to adopt—especially when you’re just starting out—is the 50/30/20 budgeting rule. This budgeting method splits your monthly income into the following percentages:

  • 50% goes towards your “needs” (your fixed costs such as rent and bills)
  • 30% goes towards your “wants” (your variable costs such as food and entertainment)
  • 20% goes towards your savings

Make sure to be patient with yourself—setting up a budget takes time, and it’s important to find one that works for you. But once you start using a budget, you’ll have a much clearer idea of how much money you have to spend on things like summer vacation. You’ll be able to make well-informed decisions about everything from where you’ll go, to where you’ll stay, and the duration of your trip—without creating extra financial stress for yourself when you get home.

2. Take shorter trips

Opting to take several shorter trips throughout the year rather than one large vacation can wind up being much less stressful overall. Why? Because small trips require less planning, are generally less expensive, and will give you more opportunities to unwind throughout the year.

What’s more, going on many smaller vacations takes the pressure off a big annual vacation from having to be absolutely perfect. So if you want to reduce your financial stress when traveling this summer, consider thinking small. Here are some ways to bust financial stress on your mini-holidays.

Keep it local

A great way to make your budget travel further when taking several smaller trips is to travel locally. While it might not sound as exotic, you don’t have to travel great distances to capture that vacation feeling. There’s bound to be many hidden gems you’ve not yet discovered in your country, or even closer to where you live.

Look out for N26 Perks

If you’re looking for an even cheaper way to travel, N26 premium members can enjoy a fantastic selection of curated N26 Perks. We know our customers love to explore, so we’ve previously partnered with brands like Booking.com, GetYourGuide, RentalCars.com and Hotels.com to provide special discounts and offers to make your trips a little sweeter.

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3. Plan your trip in advance

Often, the most stressful part of a trip happens before you even leave. The planning stage involves research, making decisions, preparing an itinerary, and, last but not least, packing.  Luckily, there are several ways to avoid a major meltdown before you get out the door. Here are a few tips to point you in the right direction.

Create a realistic vacation timeline

Creating a realistic timeline of when certain tasks need to be completed can help you to feel more in control. This could include setting deadlines for:

  • The researching phase (choosing where you want to go)
  • Booking travel arrangements (flights, trains, etc)
  • Deciding and booking where you want to stay
  • Creating a loose itinerary of what you want to do while you’re there

Make a pre-vacation checklist

Once you know where you're going and how to get there, it's time to start planning in more detail. This means creating a more focused checklist of the tasks you need to complete before you go away. Such a checklist could cover:

  • Any work-related deadlines
  • Sorting out any pet care
  • Ordering any prescription medicine you’ll need to take on your trip
  • Letting your friends and family know you’re going out of town

When it comes to packing, that deserves its own checklist. Think about how long you’ll be traveling, and what kind of clothes you’ll need while you’re away. Make sure you have enough basics, and any special clothing items you might need, like a jacket or a bathing suit. When you make your list ahead of time, you’ll be able to review it before you leave the house, reducing your odds of leaving anything behind.

4. Accept that wherever you go, there you are

Getting out of town can be a great way to reflect on your life back home. Traveling can highlight what’s really important to you, and what’s not. However, hoping that a trip will instantly take away the stresses of your everyday life is unrealistic, and is going to put a huge amount of pressure on your time off. These expectations may prevent you from enjoying your trip for what it is, or could be. Instead, here are some tips to help you appreciate your vacation more fully, and be present in the moment.

Adjust your expectations

While a vacation can be an excellent break from the stresses of everyday life, it’s unlikely to fix them long term—and that’s OK. Instead, it’s important to adjust your holiday expectations. Acknowledge that your trip will give your mind and body some much-needed rest and clarity, but it won’t magically solve all your worries.

Use your time away to reflect on some changes you may want to make once you return. Thinking proactively can help you to feel more optimistic, and it can keep you from getting stuck in a bad mood for too long.

Check in with yourself

While on vacation, it’s easy to forget to check in with yourself, especially if you’re traveling with others. This can mean ignoring signs that tell you you’re not feeling totally yourself—until they become too loud to ignore.

Dedicating a small amount of time alone to check in with yourself while traveling means you can catch these warning signs early. This not only prevents you from feeling overwhelmed later, but it also means you can change your behaviors, thought patterns, and make well-informed choices that are better aligned with your needs. It also means you’re less likely to lash out at anyone you’re traveling with when you have a better handle on your own feelings.

5. Control the things you can—get travel insurance

One of the biggest causes of stress while traveling? Unexpected surprises. From delayed flights, natural disasters, theft, and more, unpleasant surprises make it easy to start spiraling. The solution? Get travel insurance so you know that you’re always covered.

As an N26 You or N26 Metal customer, your travel insurance coverage includes:

  • Medical insurance up to €1,000,000 for you, your partner, or your children
  • Up to €500 compensation on flights delayed over four hours
  • Compensation of up to €500 for luggage delays over 12 hours 
  • Up to €2,000 compensation if your luggage goes missing

When it comes to traveling, you can’t put a price on peace of mind. Let us prevent any financial stressors from spoiling your trip, so you can get out there and start exploring.

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Your money at N26

Travel insurance isn’t the only way N26 can help bring you peace of mind on your summer vacation. Use your N26 card to make free ATM withdrawals in local currencies around the globe. What’s more, N26 Spaces lets you create up to 10 sub-accounts that sit alongside your main account. Give each space a name and set a unique savings goal, then start setting money aside for your holiday budget right away. Worried that you’ll simply forget? Create a Rule to automatically put money aside to your space each payday. Or to save even faster, turn on Round-Ups to save up the spare change from your card payments in a space of your choice. What are you waiting for? Find the plan that’s right for you today. 

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