You’re ready to get away for a few days just to take the stress off. Yet, you’re unsure how to do that when you are working so hard to save money for everyday tasks and responsibilities. Should you fund a vacation savings account when you owe money to other people and have debt? Should you just try to work more and put more money away?
Before giving up on your goal to take a vacation, recognize that vacations are very good for you. Taking a vacation can help with mindfulness, support good sleeping habits, and aid in lowering blood pressure, thanks to lower stress levels. It can actually help you be more productive when you go back to work. The key is paying for vacation in a smart and financially savvy way and knowing how to save money for vacation. That’s easier to do than you may realize.
In these hard economic times, it can seem impossible right now. Your travel fund isn’t what you want it to be. But, if you implement a few helpful tips, you’ll see things turn around consistently.
The First 3 Steps to Save Money for Vacation
Before going any further, it’s essential to set yourself up for success. There are a few specific things you can do right now to do this.
#1: Open a dedicated vacation fund
Head to your bank or use an online checking service to establish a savings account. This one should be completely separate from your existing account. This way, you can put money directly into this bank account to fund your goals. Ultimately, you may not be able to put much in right now, but with some consistency, you’ll see changes.
#2: Create a goal
Having a travel fund is a good step, but there’s more to the process than just opening an account. When you put a dollar figure on it – creating a specific financial goal for yourself – you’ll be more likely to work towards that goal.
How much does a vacation cost? That is dependent on many things. Create some realistic goals by asking yourself a few questions:
- What would be the ideal summer vacation?
- How much would it cost for you and your family to take a trip? Take a look at some travel tools online to get just a basic idea of things like hotel rooms, airline tickets, and theme park admissions, for example.
- Who will be going with you that you, yourself need to pay for? This could include your significant other or children, for example.
The goal here is to have a number in mind. You could go to the beach for a weekend and keep it low-key for just $1,000, or you could plan a trip to Disney World that costs $5,000. The key is to get a goal in mind that’s going to satisfy your needs. Price it out.
#3: Decide now that you’ll save for it and not use credit
It’s very tempting to use a credit card or obtain a loan to fund vacation, but that only means it’s going to cost you more in the long term. You don’t want to pay for those theme parks and summer vacation meals months later, thanks to credit card debt.
For that reason, make yourself a plan to pay for your next vacation in cash, using your savings account to help you fund everything you need to do. If that sounds impossible, don’t give up just yet.
Ways to Save for Vacation
Creating a vacation savings plan is the first step, but now you need to find ways to fund it. There are several steps to this.
- Aim to make your trip an affordable vacation. The more affordable it is, the more you can relax and get there sooner (since you will not have to pay as much).
- Find ways to lower the cost of vacationing. There are lots of ways to save money on your trip. Just about every vacation expense you have may be something you can get at a lower cost.
- Find ways to trim your existing budget to make room for travel. There could be a few ways to reduce your costs overall.
Start By Cutting Costs
Where can you save money in your budget to help you fund your vacation? There could be more ways to do this than you realize. Start in these areas where many people seem to spend a bit more. Ultimately, saving money in these areas can also help you to reach other financial goals you have, not just meet your vacation fund expectations.
Look for ways to lower your costs
Do you pay for a cell phone right now? Look for low-cost or free cell phone services that can help you cut that bill from your budget. You can do the same thing for internet in some cases. Check out EASY Wireless to learn about free cell phone and data services for some customers.
Lower your car insurance costs. Did you know that you can switch policies in the middle of your current policy without any fees? Get a quote from another provider. That’s free to do as well. Find out if you could be saving.
Find and eliminate monthly subscriptions. Do you have a coffee subscription? Perhaps you’re paying for a gift membership or a magazine that no one reads. Take a closer look at your checking account to see what’s coming out of your account each month that you don’t even realize. Are you really using that gym membership?
Focus on food costs. Make a shopping list and stick with it to help you save money on your food bills each month. Skip eating out as often and try to eat at home to further lower your costs. Eating lunch from home may cost $5, but it’s at least twice that for a fast food meal (or more).
Are you spending money on items you don’t really need? Try to stick with a budget that limits your spending on items that may not be necessary for you. Consider online shopping for the specific items you need so you don’t go to the store and make impulse purchases.
All of those funds can then be funneled into your vacation budget and savings fund. This allows you to start planning for better ways to use your money. Do you really want to purchase another meal at a local restaurant this week, or could you be saving money to put into a fund for a dream vacation?
Examining your budget like this can open the door to new opportunities to keep more money in your pocket. Consider your utilities and everything else you spend money on each month. What can you do to save?
Work to make some extra money
Picking up a few extra dollars could help you to fund your goals, too. It’s a fine line determining whether you should work more to make extra money or relax during the week more. The key is ensuring you are meeting your mental health needs and finding some way to earn money in a way that’s not too much work for you to do to add to your stress. Here are some things to consider.
Take on a side job
If you can earn extra income by working a side job a few hours a week, that could help you reach your savings goal sooner. You may also be able to work extra hours at your existing job to help you fund your goals.
Consider earning money from home
Can you babysit children? Perhaps you can earn money by preparing meals for a neighbor that doesn’t cook. You may be able to help with cleaning homes or helping a friend with their business.
Get rid of the extra
Do you have anything around the home to sell? You may be able to have a yard sale to help boost your bottom line and put more money into your vacation fund. Unused items around your home could help you to turn those items into vacation days!
How to Save Money for Vacation Travel
Now that you’re working to build up your savings for your big trip, consider some tips to help make that trip more affordable to you. There are some great resources for saving money. Apply these money saving tips to your vacation planning.
To save money on airline tickets, plan ahead. Last minute tickets tend to cost more. You’ll also want to travel during the week rather than on the weekends. That could cut the cost down significantly.
Go with a road trip instead
Another option would be to consider a road trip instead of flying. That’s a great way to keep the costs lower and still maximize your trip. Instead of spending hours in the car to get to your destination, plan to see some sights along the way. That makes every day something to look forward to.
Make your credit cards work for you
If you have credit cards, you may be able to save money by moving to rewards credit cards that offer travel benefits. These are okay if you have good credit and you do not have to pay significant fees for them. If they have a high interest rate, that’s going to cost you more than the savings you earn for your trip.
Also, consider building a cash only lifestyle. Let’s say you have a cash budget. You don’t use credit cards. If right now you are paying 25% in interest on your credit cards, for every $100 you spend on credit and do not pay back in a year, that’s an extra $25. If you create a cash budget, that $25 can fund your vacation. A credit card could be an option but aim to have all of the costs of your vacation paid for by cash instead.
How much time do you plan to spend in the hotel during your trip? If you’ll just be sleeping there, why spend a lot of money on it? Putting money into a place to sleep when you’re exhausted from a day of fun isn’t worth the cost. Look for an affordable, safe location. Here are some other tips to lower your hotel costs:
- If you’re driving, plan your hotel stays at a location that’s outside of the immediate area. Tourism destinations charge much more than the cities that are located 5 to 10 miles away.
- Always shop for a discount. You can find great discounts online for most hotels. The key is to compare them. If you don’t find one, call the location on the phone. Ask them what their best price is.
- Planning ahead is always a good idea to keep costs lower, but you also want to ask for a discount if you’re booking at the last minute. The hotel just wants to fill its rooms and may offer a great price to you to get you to book.
- Don’t check in or out on Friday or Saturday. Those are the most expensive days to stay because most people travel on the weekend.
- Look for a hotel that can do more for you. You can save money on transportation costs and avoid a car rental, for example, if the location offers a shuttle to the locations you plan to visit. Do they offer a continental breakfast? That could help you to save some money on meals, too.
Ask for additional discounts, too. Many hotels will bundle the cost of your park tickets or car rental, helping you to lower what you pay overall. You just have to ask for the best deals.
Travel in the off season
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to plan to travel when everyone else isn’t traveling. It will save you money – but it also means there’s less demand for that area, and that often means fewer crowds.
For example, if you want to visit a beach in Florida, aim to go during the cooler months. Summertime is busy, and that means costs rise. Traveling during the school year can also be a way to lower your overall costs. The less demand there is for hotel rooms, tickets, and other services, the more those services lower their prices to fill up their reservations. You can take full advantage of those deals and discounts.
Learn when the holiday season is for the area you plan to go to. Then, plan to visit at another time, even a few weeks before or after everyone else books their trip. That makes your travel budget a bit easier to reach.
More Tips for Saving Money
If you’re doing all of these things but still need to tuck more money away, here are some ways to do so.
Automate the savings you’re doing
Did you know that most bank accounts will allow you to set up an automated savings plan? That means that it will automatically put a certain amount of money into your bank account as often as you want it to. Let’s say you want to put $10 from each paycheck into your bank account for your next trip. Set it up so that every time you get paid, those funds go into the account automatically. That way, you don’t have to think about it.
Cut the day to day expenses on your trip
There are ways to save on all the costs you are likely to have. Consider:
- Pack your lunches and snacks instead of buying items in the park or at the stands.
- Pick up some themed toys or items at a discount store at home to give the kids something to do while traveling. For example, you may spend half as much for glow sticks at home than you do at a theme park.
- Skip the rental cars. Instead, use the local bus. Local transportation in some areas is outstanding, and that’s one easy way to lower your travel budget.
- Look on websites that offer discounts for meals in the desired city. For example, you may find a few restaurants that offer free kid's meals at various times of the week.
- Look for discount tickets for all of the things you want to do. Groupon and other sites like it often offer great savings on theme parks, water parks, mini golf, and much more.
What other regular expenditures do you have when traveling? Set a budget for spending, too. You’ll want to keep your financial goals in mind here and not splurge on super cool tourist-only items that no one will use when they get home.
Use your points
If you have rewards credit cards, use your points. Instead of planning a trip and then trying to use points, figure out where you’ll get the best way to use your points. For example, your rewards credit card may offer you a better deal if you choose one location or one hotel over another. Always know what your options are. The local market may be easier to navigate than you realize.
Find out if there are ways to earn bonus points, too. Maximize your savings with these tools, and put the extra cash you earn back into your trip so you can save even more.
Find a great trip that costs less
If working towards a big savings goal is just too hard to do right now, make your trip as inexpensive as it can be. Start saving for a trip like these which shouldn’t cost you much at all:
- Go camping in a local park or in a national park within a drive from your home.
- Head to a lake in a nearby town to do some fishing.
- Find the closest beach to you and your family and make it a point to visit that location with a car ride.
- Take a vacation with others you like. Split the costs to keep them as affordable as possible. Could sharing one hotel room save you money?
- Skip the theme park and instead head to some museums and historic sites where you’ll have fun and save money on admission.
How much money should you save for vacation?
Finding great advice on this topic is hard to do. The reason is that it’s up to you based on where you plan to travel, what you plan to do, and who is going with you. Instead of looking at it this way, challenge yourself based on your budget.
For example, if you know you can save $200 in extra cash per day of your vacation, determine what type of vacation is best suited for your needs within that area.
Is $5,000 enough for a vacation?
It could be plenty, and it all depends on where you put that money and how you make it work for you. Even if you just have a little money, you can plan a day trip locally that offers a bit of a break. Check out your local market, area parks, or head to an area that’s nearby that you’ve been to in a while.
What is the 50-30-20 rule?
This rule says that you should put 50% of your money towards paying for whatever your needs are, like utilities and rent. Then, put 30% of your income towards the things you want, like buying clothing or paying for travel. The final 20% should go to a savings account for other needs and goals.
What is the smartest way to pay for a vacation?
Cash! No one wants to pay interest and late fees on their trip for last year. That’s why you want to take some time now to start saving and planning for your trip. When you earn extra money, put it aside for your travel needs. That way, your next trip will mean that much more to you.
Are you looking for some more help?
Be sure to check out all of the guidance we have to offer and find out how you may qualify for a free cell phone and data service at EASY Wireless. It’s an excellent way to meet your savings goals month over month so you can take that vacation.