We know, we know, the new year just got here. This makes it the perfect time to start planning your summer vacation! While you are bundled up inside for these cold winter months, why not start planning? (Or fantasizing?) The best way to maximize your vacation budget is to plan ahead. If you are going to a new destination, you may not be aware of all of the costs associated with the locale. The last thing you want is to wind up shelling out extra cash because of waiting until the last minute. The CGS Team is sharing a few tips when it comes to planning your summer vacation early. If you know you want to travel this year, don’t wait to figure out the details!
What’s Your Budget?
This is the single most important question to ask yourself when you are getting ready to plan a vacation. The earlier you have your budgeted amount for travel determined, the sooner you can start saving. The earlier you start saving, the less financially taxing the trip will be when it finally rolls around. Not to mention, unexpected expenses always seem to come up.
If an emergency comes up but you have been budgeting for vacation early, you won’t fall behind as bad as you would had you not already been saving. Once you have the total amount you can afford to spend on your vacation determined, you can pick your destination. Listen to CGS Podcast Episode 30: Vacation Planning on a Budget for the steps CGS Founder Raya takes to budget and save for vacations!
Where Are You Going?
Is your budgeted vacation allotment $2500? Unless you are opting for a cruise, a destination abroad may not be your best bet. A cruise is great because they are typically low cost and the price the room and food is included in the one-time ticket fee. You get to explore a few different locations all for one price. The downside? If there is no port in your city, you have to worry about travel to the port you want to leave out of.
In addition, time in each location is limited to about 6-8 hours, and alcohol is not included in that one-time fee. In that case, consider exploring some of the wonderful parts of the United States. Take a road trip and visit multiple cities! There are so many options, so make a list of what sounds best to you and the cost. Narrow the list down by eliminating options that are not in budget. Narrow that list down by the potential activities you would love to do. If you are going alone, consider areas with lower crime rates than others.
What Necessities Do You Need to Pay For?
What big expenses will need to be paid for on your trip? As we mentioned earlier, if you go on a cruise, you don’t have to budget for food or hotel fees. If you are taking a road trip, then you don’t need to budget for plane tickets. After you have established your budget and decided where to go, you can start getting into the details of your trip. Will you need to stay at a hotel? If so, how much of your budget is allocated to paying for the hotel?
Are you going with a group of friends and everyone pitches in for an AirBNB home? Plane tickets, hotels/rentals, and car (rental or your own) and gas fees are the most expensive parts of the trip. Since you already have your budget amount in place, you can determine how you want to pay for these expenses. Would you rather stay in a nice hotel and Uber everywhere? Then your hotel allotment should be higher while your transportation allotment should be lower. Once you have these expenses determined, everything left over can go to food, fun and entertainment.
What Activities Do You Need to Pay For?
With the true necessities already budgeted for, you should have a good idea of what’s left of the budget to spend on food, fun, shopping, activities, etc. This is where early planning and research comes in handy! Don’t just leave the remaining budget for fun and wing it when you get there! Do your research to see what the nice restaurants are and their average prices.
Check to see which activities are ideal for the destination and then determine their costs. Consider what items, souvenirs, or general purchases you are likely to by. You may be surprised to find that your remaining budget will only cover a third of the activities you are planning for. Since you started planning ahead of time, you start adding more money to your travel budget!
The point we are trying to make is that the earlier you start planning (and budgeting) for your vacation, the better off you will be when the time comes to take it. There’s nothing worse than going on vacation with less money than you expected, overspending, and coming back worrying about how rent will be covered.
The earlier you plan and set a budget, the easier it will be for you to stay within that budget. You will have more time to scope out changing rates in flights and hotels. You will have more time to research and maximize your experience. Planning a vacation is a wonderful experience! Don’t make it stressful by waiting until the last minute.
Are you planning on traveling this year? How do you plan for vacations? What tips do you have to share that work for you when it comes to staying in your travel budget? Share your thoughts, tips and experiences with the CGS community by leaving a comment below. You can also share your future explorations in the CGS Facebook Group!