You know that 52-week money challenge thing that goes around once in a while, particularly towards Christmas? Well I use a similar approach to save up for bigger trips. The 330 weeks I mention in the subject line is how long it will take me from my start just about a year ago to save up the money for a planned trip to China in 2021. I started studying Mandarin in 2007 in hopes of one day taking a trip to China, but it never worked out, so I have tentatively scheduled this long-awaited trip for 2021. At the moment, I have two other trips planned that I am using a similar approach, one to Germany and one to New Zealand, between now and 2021.
And before you ask, I’m not ever going to put $330 aside in one week. The plan goes something like this. For a trip to China, I figured that $10,000 should do it (and checking Expedia, it looks like I can do it much more cheaply than that, but you never know what will happen to prices over the next five years). So I counted the weeks between the date I started and the end of December 2020 (since I want to book the trip around six months in advance, plus I made this calculation using San Antonio and Shanghai as my endpoints and I hope to do a bit more traveling around the country than that, which will raise the cost) and got 330 weeks. Dividing $10,000 into 330 weeks gives me an average amount of just a little more than $30 per week, so my first week will be $1 and my final week should be $60 (though it won’t, as we will see). Since 330 divided by 60 is 5.5, I will round down and start at $1 the first five weeks and go up $1 every five weeks after that. This will mean that my final five weeks will be $66, rather than $60. At the end of those 330 weeks, I will have a little more than $11,000.
And you know what? If my trip to China doesn’t end up costing me $11,000, then I can use that money on another trip. I want to return to Naples (I loved Naples — more on that later) to see the blood miracle of San Gennaro in the early 2020s as well, so that seems like it might be a good use of any extra money.
Additionally, in practice, it doesn’t always work out so perfectly, since sometimes money is a little tighter than others and I end up having to carry that week’s amount forward another week or two to tide me over. But, in theory, I should have plenty of money to do whatever travel I want to do in China saved up in plenty of time for the trip I hope to make.
I am also doing a reverse version of this to save up for smaller trips. I chose a dollar amount as a maximum and I am counting down in reverse from that amount, decreasing every two or three weeks, depending on my financial state that week. This money added up quickly and if I suffer some kind of financial setback, the money is already there for me to use on a smaller weekend trip sometime in the future. The thought occurs that I should go to Mexico at some point, speaking of travel to countries where I speak the language. Mexico is, after all, right there. I went to Nuevo Laredo once in the 1990s, but have never been farther into the country than that.