St Andrews students are often written off as entitled. Self-funding and planning your own trip is a great way to ensure your own personal and financial growth. Here to illuminate some of the various benefits is our Travel Editor, Emily.
Going on family holidays is great. Having it all paid for you, not having to worry about the cost or the planning and just needing to pack your luggage is convenient and affordable…with the only downside being your parents insisting on doing what they want to do because it’s coming out of their wallet. But given time, as you grow up, that may change. Some parents expect you to contribute for part of it or pay your full share; especially if you are taking a trip without them. Whilst this may be annoying, it is important to remember that they have been paying out for you for a long time. If they still give you an allowance and that is what you use to pay the trip, they are technically still funding your holiday.
Regardless of how long that goes on, at some point, you will end up funding your own holiday and this small financial independence can create such a sense of achievement.
In contrast to having a holiday handed to you, working towards a goal is satisfying, whether it is a grad trip or a vacation in spring break. It makes work more bearable, you know where your money is going, and you can get increasingly excited every time you pay out for the holiday. Planning in advance has its benefits too; you can pay for things in instalments instead of it all coming out of your account in one go. It also means you know how much you need to save or which shopping trip to turn down, and I would always recommend saving more than you think you need, just in case you end up taking spontaneous day trips. I ended up getting a ferry to Macau from Hong Kong for the day on the whim of a hostel roommate with no regrets, but a slightly lighter than budgeted wallet.
It also gives a nice sense of control when planning, if you use card, all the receipts will be emailed to you so you can see where you have spent and on what. This means that you know exactly what is going on, and the cost may surprise you. Holidaying can be more expensive than most people think, and tracking your pre-holiday spending also gives you an idea where you could save money when you are on the go, as pre-holiday costs normally cannot be avoided (e.g. travel, accommodation, insurance, tours).
It also makes the actual vacation less stressful. You are not as restricted as if you were worrying about someone else’s money; if you want a super expensive coffee or meal you can get it. If you want to take a spontaneous trip you can. I have ended up going to two different Disney parks in the same holiday as the Macau daytrip, none of which were on my to-do or budget list to begin with. I know for sure that I would have felt bad about charging my parents’ account for the tickets but was perfectly happy to spend my own money on them.
Having a rough idea of your own spending on holiday is important too. On your own money, especially as students with less income than if working, it is much more likely you will run out of money or end up broke post-trip. To avoid this, take shorter holidays (more days equal more accommodation and food fees) or plan well in advance, including money you already have. If you are sitting on a decently saved amount anyway then you have less work to do and could book quicker. If you are almost broke without having booked anything, then you will need to plan more in advance, but holidays are still possible.
Whether your trip is two days or five weeks, coming home from a self-financed holiday is something to be proud of. Your hard work earned and saved the money that meant you could do what you like, within a budget, and you had an amazing time because of your work. Holidays are basically a treat to yourself, one that takes a bit more planning than a one-off spa trip or a Dominos, so there is no reason not to spend your money them.
So go, pick a spot on the map, be independent, self-finance, and take trips you want to because you have saved money and you can. You don’t need a reason to travel other than your enjoyment, so take advantage of that as and when you can.