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Eels, Sharks and Lost Passports

Feb 20, 2020
Empower Insights

A year of planning, plus diligent saving, leads to the vacation of a lifetime — and not a single cent of debt

Kelly Fischer plans to go far in life — and she’s already got a head start.

Fischer, 31, took her first exotic vacation in 2014, when she spent a month traveling around Indonesia by herself. Even though she planned to stay in hostels and eat street food, she knew the trip would cost thousands of dollars. So almost a year before leaving, she cut way back on her habit of daily restaurant meals and saved money diligently.

“My entire adult life, I’ve always saved up for traveling,” says Fischer. “I’ll use my credit card for convenience, but only up to what I already have in the bank.”

tropical waterfall

She uses online budgeting software to track her expenses, which is how she identified her restaurant splurges. “I was a single woman, spending $400 a month in restaurants,” she recalls. “That seemed like a crazy number to me.”

Before heading off to the wilds of Indonesia, Fischer carefully researched how much her trip would cost, then accounted for some backup funds. “That gave me flexibility,” she says. “It meant that whatever happened, good or bad, I would be okay.”

As it turned out, her trip changed in ways both good and bad.

On the remote Gili Islands, Fischer took an introductory scuba course and fell in love with diving. “I hadn’t planned to take scuba lessons, but I decided to stay longer and take the full course,” she says. “I saw eels and rays and sharks, and every evening there was this amazing, pure-red sunset. It was stupendous. Because I had budgeted for extras, I was able to stay a few more days.”

Then came the bad news: Fischer lost her passport. That cost her some missed (and nonrefundable) flights within Indonesia, plus days of embassy hassles. “It is ludicrously expensive to replace your passport in a foreign country,” she says. “But I had the money.”

As soon as she got back, she paid off her credit card bill — and began saving for her next trip: a five-week journey to Hong Kong, Macao, South Korea and Japan.

Get ready for your next adventure with an Empower Investment Account

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