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I get it. I’m a dreamer too. My travel bucket list is lengthy. But, we dreamers have a problem.

We THINK about these trips, but we don’t always DO them. We need to get out of our heads and start doing.

This next tip is going to help with that. We’re going to talk river cruise costs and ways to make your river cruise dream trip a reality.

Before we get started, if you’re deep in debt and can’t pay your bills, stop reading. Fix your income problem. Fix your debt problem. Then come back to this post.

And, some of you have your money stuff figured out. That’s awesome! You can probably skip this post too.

Keep reading if you’re one of the many people I talk to at luncheons. Oh, you know who you are.

The one that tells me a river cruise is on your bucket list but you can’t afford it while you reach for your glasses in your Louis Vuitton. This one’s for you, my friend.

If you don’t want to river cruise, then don’t. And, that’s okay.

But, if you do want to river cruise, then do.

Now, let’s figure out a way to pay for the darn thing.

Below is a simple plan you can follow to help budget for a river cruise.

And I want to send a message to the naysayers. The plan is simple but not always easy.

Just like, losing 20 pounds(or more) takes effort, saving for a bigger trip requires work too.

But, with focus and determination, you can make it happen. I have faith in you.


Choose your river cruise and decide when you want to go. Rip the page out of the brochure. Post it on the refrigerator. Mark it on your calendar. Make it real. This trip is really going to happen.

But, set the travel date with enough time you need to save up for your trip. This will depend on how much you have saved already and how fast of a saver you are.


You need to know your costs and you need to know when you’ll make your payments. Duh, I know.

But, write it down. Get it out of your head and on paper. Again, make it real.

This is what you need to know:

Trip Costs:

  • Deposit Cost: [Cruise Deposit + Air Deposit + Travel insurance]
  • Final Payment Cost:
  • 10% Cushion:
  • Incidentals Estimate:

Important Dates:

  • Travel Date:
  • Deposit Date:
  • Final Payment Date:

We can use the Christmas Markets on the Danube trip as an example. Imagine you called me today interested in going with mom and me on the trip this November.

This is what your paper might look like:

Trip Costs*

  • Trip Deposit Cost: $750[Cruise Deposit($400) + Air Deposit($350) + Travel insurance($477)]=$1227
  • Final Payment Cost: $3925
  • 10% Cushion: $500**
  • Incidentals Estimate: $500***

Total: $6152

Important Dates:

  • Travel Date: 11/27/2017
  • Trip Deposit Date: 2/19/17 [Cruise Deposit + Air Deposit + Trip Insurance]
  • Final Payment Date: 8/29/17

*These numbers were taken from an actual trip booked. They are per person rates based on double occupancy. However, use these numbers only as a reference. Pricing fluctuates until deposit is made. And costs will vary depending on each individual trip and the trip components. Travel insurance is optional but highly recommended. Travel insurance cost varies too.

**Not everyone factors in a 10% cushion. I prefer to have this margin when budgeting for a trip.

***River Cruises are mostly all-inclusive. This incidentals number will depend on your own personal spending habits. Some can get by with less than this. Others will need to budget more.


Ok, you have a general idea of the cost of your trip.

Based on the numbers above, you need to have about $1300 already saved to make the deposit next week.

You also want to have $3925 saved before the 8/29 final payment date.

If you aren’t ready to part with this amount just yet, then hold off and readjust your travel plan.

Look at some sailings for 2018. Set the date you will have your money saved.

Divide your trip total cost by the number of months between today and your set date.

Let’s use the trip cost from above and set the savings date as 1 year from today as an example:

Trip Cost: $6152

$6152/12=$511 per month

Now you know the amount you need to save each month to make this trip happen.

Looking for spare change under the couch cushions helps, but you need to work harder than that to fund your trip.

Don’t give up – You can do it!

List all your household expenses.  Determine if you can whittle them down.

Identify your ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. This river cruise trip is a ‘want’, but it’s a BIG ‘want’.

Look for other ‘wants’ on your last credit card bill and find frivolous items you can cut.

Be mindful of how you spend your money. Set up a monthly savings plan for your trip.

Stick To Your Plan.


I admit it. All trips are shiny objects to me. I can walk by the Jimmy Choos. I don’t know the latest purse trends.

But I wanderlust on Instagram daily. I have to delete the app on my phone from time to time to keep me focused.

What are your weaknesses? You need to be aware of what they are.

Do you mindlessly shop on Amazon? Stop. Check out a book from the library instead.

Do you purchase silly tchotchkes when you grocery shop? Quit. Only items on your list make it into the cart.

And yes, Starbucks and dining out need to go too. I know. Saving can be hard.

But, be mindful of your spending. The more focused you are the faster you save.

And, you will stop dreaming, start doing, and take that river cruise trip you want to go on.

Are you ready to start your plan? Awesome! Good for you!

Do you have helpful budgeting tips? What are they? I’d love to know.

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