So, you’ve read the 6 Signs You Need a Vacation article and confirmed that a getaway is much needed, but now you are trying to figure out how to pay for it. Just because your finances are not exactly where you need them to be does not mean you can’t have a vacation. Vacation planning on a budget is possible!
Consider taking some time off and drive to some nearby cities for exploring; not paying for a flight can make a huge difference. Do you have any friends or families in places you never been? Try coordinating with them to see if they can accommodate you for a few days. Lodging is another part of the vacation that can get pricey.
If you have been budgeting for a while now and can afford airline tickets and hotel lodging, there still isn’t a reason why you shouldn’t save the most money you can while planning your vacation. I'm sharing a few tips you can do before your trip and during your trip to ensure that you make the most of your vacation and stay within your financial means. Let’s get ready to have a great vacation season!
Before Your Trip
Start a “Vacation” Fund
If you just realized that a vacation is needed but haven’t started planning yet, open a new account strictly for vacation money. Each paycheck deposit $25-50 into your vacation account. If you can afford to part with more, doing so will make it that much easier when you start booking.
The sooner you can start your vacation fund, the better. If you deposit $50 a paycheck (roughly $100 a month), then in 4-6 months you could have an extra $400-$600 reserved solely for your vacation!
Plan Ahead & Book In Advance
Planning ahead of time is a major part of ensuring you stay within your budget. Start looking at travel booking sites to get an idea of just how much you will need. Websites like Travelocity and Orbitz will typically offer early booking discounts as well as package discounts. Airfare and lodging are usually the most expensive parts of the vacation, so getting an idea of the prices will allow you to budget accordingly to pay for them.
Also consider timeshares and vacation rentals. These can be less expensive and sometimes just as accommodating as hotels. Search online for travel guides. Get an idea of some of the activities you would like to do while you are on vacation. This will give you an idea of how to plan your time and budget accordingly.
Create a “Vacation” Budget
Before you start planning, you should already have an idea of how much money you truly can afford to spend. Create an excel spreadsheet that categorizes each part of the vacation that will require funds. Airfare, Lodging, Transportation, Food, and Entertainment should be included.
Allocate an amount for each category and do your best to stay within the set amount. It is best to include an Emergency category in case something comes up while you are away.
Check out some of my tips for financially preparing for a vacation in the video below!
During Your Trip
You can save yourself a good amount of money by packing as light as possible. Most airlines automatically charge you to check in bags, but if your bags exceed a certain weight you could be hit with even more fees.
Leave some room in your suitcase for items that you purchase on vacation; the last thing you want is to shell out more money coming home! Read How to Pack Like a Pro for a few tips! Consider traveling with an airline that lets you check your bags in free, Southwest is well-known for that.
Reduce Eating Out
Paying for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day of your vacation can get extremely expensive. You should have already budgeted for your food, but you can stay under that amount by purchasing groceries locally. Confirm that your hotel room has a refrigerator and you can pick up some light meals for yourself.
Also consider purchasing alcohol and beverages from local stores; drinks can get pricey around the hotel or in restaurants and lounges. Eating in for part of your vacation can help your wallet and your waistline!
If you plan your activities ahead of time and book in advance, most places will give coupons and promo codes to use. You can also search online discount sites like Groupon to see if there are any discounted activities, shows, or dining available where you are traveling. Not having to pay full price can put extra money in your pocket, or allow you to do a little extra shopping!
Take Public Transportation
If possible, avoid paying for a rental car. If you are going to a city like Miami or NYC, you probably won’t even need it! Check out public transportation; it’s a great alternative to shelling out cash for a rental car and allows you to see parts of the city you may not have seen.
Not to mention, navigation struggles can be avoided. If your hotel is near sites and attractions, consider taking taxis or walking. If you know someone in the city, see if they wouldn’t mind giving you a lift if needed.
Related: 6 Ways to Travel on a Budget
If you want to simplify vacation planning, read 5 Awesome Travel Apps. Planning a vacation definitely takes time, money and patience! Don’t rush and overspend; take your time to plan out as much of your trip as you can. Set aside money ahead of time and try not to use any of your credit cards.
Do you have any tips for budgeting for a vacation or on a vacation? Do you have any trips coming up? We would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Leave a comment below to share with the community!
The CGS Team