Have you been dreaming of a luxurious getaway or family vacation to your favorite Disney World theme park? We’re with you, taking a vacation is essential for self-care and creating lifelong memories with family. The big question we all must consider when planning a vacation ishow to save money for this glorious future retreat. Don’t let the challenges of saving bog you down. In this article, we’ll be sharing tips and tricks on how to save for a vacation.
Budget for Your Vacation Early
Planning for a vacation and determining a budget is essential. If you can do this well in advance, it may allow more time to find the best possible deals and of course, saving enough money to cover all of your vacation needs. You can begin outlining your budget by searching travel blogs or local itinerary sites which outline the costs of items like:
Theme park tickets
Precision isn't the goal here. Your vacation budget is an educated estimate based on the expected contours of your trip. After outlining your major costs then gut-check your expectations for your daily expenditures. For example,
Do you plan to eat at restaurants or prepare your meals?
Will you rent a car or utilize public transportation?
Do you plan on trying new activities? If so, what?
Do you plan on exploring beyond a 25-mile radius?
Arrive at cost ranges for each category. Add them together to get a total expected cost range. Pad with a reasonable buffer – perhaps 10 - 15%, to account for higher-than-expected travel costs or currency fluctuations (for international travel). Also, remember to research customary tips and gratuity fees for the area you are traveling to. These small expenses can really add up while on vacation. This final number is your upper budget limit.
Set Travel Dates and Pin Down Large Costs
Before you make any reservations, set your travel dates, then drill down on your budget expenses: round-trip travel, lodging, and local transportation. Since these items are expensive, you'll want to have a good sense of what they'll cost you so that you know what to save, what to sacrifice, and more importantly if your existing finances fall in line with the scale of your vacation.
Block off a few hours on an evening or weekend for detailed research. Use multiple online booking and price-comparison sites to narrow down what you're likely to spend on each significant item given your origin, destination, travel times, and expectations for quality and comfort. Using sites like usingHotels.com, Travelocity, or your favorite money savings apps are helpful for the research process. You can also sign up for deal notifications. This little trick allows you to claim the best possible deals especially if you are planning your vacation out months in advance.
Remember that the prices you see online don't always include extra expenses like baggage fees, resort fees, and lodging taxes. A $25 daily resort fee adds $150 to the cost of a six-night stay, for instance – not an insignificant expense. Be sure to factor these extras into your budget.
Identify Potential Splurges Ahead of Time
Most people don’t think about planning for splurges in advance but it’s definitely a smart idea. After all, you are saving for a vacation. The great thing about saving for a vacation is you can bake in splurges even if you are traditionally frugal. To start saving for luxuries, set up a separatesavings or money market account just for this expenditure – say, an extra $10 per week into your splurge account on top of the $30 you're already putting into your general travel account.
If you have some breathing room in your budget, look for an opportunity or two to treat yourself as you research your destination. Your ideal splurge might be a spa day, a fancy restaurant meal, a chartered fishing trip, or a guided city tour – it all depends on your destination and personal preferences. You can actually plan for a splurge ahead of time and get great deals in the process.
Get Practical and Determine The Cost
As you plan your budget, consider your total cost for the vacation and use a simple savings goal calculator to identify the amount of money you'll need to save per month to hit your goal. Once you’ve identified the baseline figure, add 10% to the monthly value and use that figure as your actual monthly contribution. The additional 10% padding will help you reach your goal even if you have to save a little less due to an unforeseen circumstance.
After outlining your monthly savings goal look for simple opportunities to cut out the monthly fat in your budget and direct the excess to save for your vacation. The great thing about this process is you'll have the opportunity to determine if your vacation savings plan is actually feasible or if you need to make adjustments to match your current finances. Also, consider creating a plan for purchasing higher ticket items. For example, if you have a credit card that earns airline mileage you may consider booking or purchasing high ticket items like hotel stays, theme park tickets, or tours. By doing this you’ll be able to apply airline mileage earned to reduce airfare costs.
Use a Travel Agent or Travel Portal
If a travel agent or travel portal can earn you deep discounts then be sure to take advantage of it. Agents receive commissions from airlines and hotels and not the traveler; you may likely pay less for your vacation than if you planned it yourself.
If you are a member of a travel club or lifestyle club they often have discount portals that are unavailable to standard travelers. You should also look into your work benefits as some private organizations may offer discounts or employee benefits on traveling.
Overall, saving for a vacation is a feasible process. A successful savings plan just requires a bit of research and some discipline. To recap, here are some simple steps you can start using today to begin saving for a vacation.
Create a vacation budget using a spreadsheet.
Find opportunities to save on vacation by using credit card points, booking stays in advance, or taking advantage of online specials.
Be sure to include details like splurges and gratuity into your budget.
Begin saving every month based on your calculated goal.