If the idea of taking time away from work to head to the destination of your dreams happens to dance around in your mind, you aren’t alone.
But, dreaming about a vacation is much different than taking one. How do you go about saving for your next vacation?
You may want to go to the beach or travel internationally but one look at your bank account tells you that you can afford to travel to down to the corner. And that’s it.
That does not mean you can’t take one. You simply need to play ahead and save for your dream vacation.
Why should I save money before a vacation?
You might be tempted to grab your credit card and swipe your way to your destination. That’s not smart. Traveling for fun should not be something that you borrow money to do. You need to both save and take steps to save money on vacation.
While you might enjoy the week away, the credit card bill will be right there staring you in the face when you get home. And what is the fun of relaxing just to return to a huge balance waiting for you at home?
Never take a vacation you can’t afford. That may mean putting off the getaway until you have the money in your savings account.
To get your needed getaway, set a savings goal, and start setting aside cash to pay for your trip. Taking a vacation — whether it be a dream vacation or some budget travel — is something you need to plan for so you can pay with cash without taking on credit card debt.
And while it is not fun to wait, you should. A vacation is a want, not a need.
Consider your vacation type
The type of trip you take can greatly impact how much you spend on travel expenses. All-inclusive resorts, for example, cost more than booking a cheap round-trip ticket to a cheap hotel by the beach. There are money-saving tips for both types of vacations but you need to have a savings plan and maybe a way to generate extra money.
Before you even begin to plan your trip, set an attainable savings goal. Starting with a budget template will help you understand where you save by forcing you to examine your credit card debt, how much cash you burn each day, and what your personal finance picture looks like.
There are a lot of ways to save money on vacation. Cheap flights can be found and you may opt for a series of day trip mini-vacations or a low-priced beach vacation. You may also opt to rent a house with friends or to leave on a day when travel costs less.
You should also consider travel credit cards that offer rewards you can use to pay for part of your trip. A rewards card, of course, can also lead to overspending so never charge anything you can’t pay for
It’s also important to join loyalty programs so your current trip may help with paying for your next one.
Budget travel does not have to mean cheaping out. Instead, it means paying the best price possible.
How much do I need to save?
That depends entirely on where it is you want to go. If your idea is to travel to the beaches of Florida, it may be more affordable then the beaches in the Bahamas.
Your vacation costs will vary based on the number of people in your family as well as where it is you plan to go. The average vacation costs more than $1,000 per person, according to Credit Donkey.
You can save money on any type of vacation (even a Disney vacation) but it takes planning. Look for vacation packages that bundle airfare, hotel, and even theme park tickets. You can save money by not renting a car if Uber or Lyft will meet your needs and sometimes you can cut your costs by flying from alternate airports or being open to Airbnb rentals instead of traditional hotel chains.
Of course, the amount you need may be lower (or even higher) than the average. But planning ahead will help you know how much you need to save.
How to save for your vacation
Once you know how much money you need, it is time to get busy saving!
There are several ways you can rapidly build up your travel funds.
Start a vacation savings jar
There is something about seeing the savings build-up, especially when you want your family involved. That is where the vacation jar comes in handy.
Get a jar and toss the money you save from the grocery store, odd jobs, selling, things, etc. As you see the money increase, that in turn pushes everyone to save more.
If you look around your house, you probably have many items you no longer need or want. Why not sell them?
That does not mean you need to have a garage sale. You can use sites such as Craigslist, LetGo, and Facebook marketplace to sell your unwanted items.
Get the kids involved in selling toys and electronics they no longer want to use. After all, they want to go on vacation too so they can contribute to the family savings fund.
Start a side hustle
You work a traditional job, so a second or part-time job may be a bit too much. But, there does not mean you can’t start a side hustle.
You may have a power washer and can offer to power wash decks in the neighborhood. You may offer pet sitting services for families on vacation. You might be able to coach someone to improve their golf swing.
Get your kids in on the fun too! They can mow lawns and babysit to raise vacation money.
The great thing with the side hustle is you are in control. There is no boss so when you don’t want to do it anymore, you simply stop.
Watch your spending
The grocery store is where most Americans spend the majority of their paycheck. That means it is the first place you should turn when it comes to trying to save money.
But, don’t simply save. Make it a game!
Look at your average grocery bill and challenge yourself to reduce it by 10%.
Those savings can get added to your vacation jar. Slowly increase it each time you go to the store to see how much you can save. Try to beat your previous week’s score to see if you can do even better.
Your family can help by agreeing to change to different brands or skip a favorite snack for the week. They can look at the ads and help you clip coupons to save even more.
Go on a spending freeze
You can also save money quickly by going on a spending freeze. You will spend money on food, but that is it.
No dining out. No new clothes. No movies or entertainment.
Instead, find new recipes to make at home. Watch the old movies collecting dust on the shelf. Get outside and take a family bike ride.
Don’t do a spending freeze for long periods. Even two weeks can result in big savings that help you more quickly reach your vacation savings goals.
When you stop overspending on things you don’t need the money will build up quickly in your checking account. Take it paycheck to paycheck and watch every penny pile up.
Plan your meals
The average family spends more than $3,000 annually dining out. Yikes!
If you want to save more for traveling, then dining out is one of the first things that should go. But, that does not mean you can’t still enjoy dinnertime. It can be fun too!
There are thousands of recipes online for you to try. Have fun and mix up your week by trying different ethnic recipes from around the world. It will be like going on vacation in your kitchen.
Menu planning is key as you need to know what you will make and eat for the week. It will also help with your grocery list and budget. Stop running to the grocery store every night and plan your meals in advance and you’ll notice significant savings.
Protect your finances
It’s important to not let our dream vacation become a nightmare. It’s important to stay within your means and find vacation packages that meet your budget. That may mean a trip that’s off the beaten path or it could mean flying a budget airline or staying at a normal hotel chain instead of one of the pricier all-inclusive resorts.
Have a savings plan and stick to it. It’s not easy to find extra money but it’s possible if you commit yourself to set the money aside.
Vacations are fun and a need for everyone. We all need a break from work and regular life from time to time. However, your vacation should never cause you to go into debt. Ever.