Tips for How to Save for a Vacation

Interested in getting away from it all but need ideas on how to save money? Here are seven suggestions about how to save for a vacation.


Sometimes you just need to get away from it all. Vacations can give you the opportunity to relax, see the world, and experience something new. Whether you’re planning a vacation that will take you to the other side of the globe or a simple road trip through the countryside, vacations are a great way to create memories that will last your whole life.

Whether you have a dream vacation in mind or you just want to plan a weekend getaway, your travel preparations might require figuring out how to save for a vacation. With tight budgets, that can turn into a significant challenge. Don’t throw away your vacation plans yet. You may be able to make going on vacation more affordable with a few simple tips.

Interested in getting away from it all? Here are seven suggestions about how to save money for a vacation.

1. Plan the Details

Saving for vacation can mean planning out ahead of time where you want to go and what you want to do. Deciding on a target destination is only the first step. Before you save, you should figure out the details. And with vacations, there may be many details you might need to work out, especially if you plan on traveling internationally.

How will you be getting to your destination? Will it require purchasing plane tickets? Can you drive there? How will you get around once you’ve arrived? If public transportation is readily available, that can be a cost-effective option. Alternatively, If you’ll need to travel long distances, you might choose to rent a car.

Plan out how long you’ll be spending on vacation. From there, you can decide what type of accommodations to budget for. Will you be staying with friends or family? Will you stay in a hotel? Will you rent a room in someone else’s home?

As you plan your vacation, you should think about other trip expenses such as food, entertainment, souvenirs, and any other items you’ll likely be spending money on.

Vacation expenses can add up fast. In fact, in a 2017 survey, 74% of the travelers surveyed said they have gone into debt to pay for a vacation, with $1,108 being the average debt amount. By planning out the details first, you’ll be more likely to know how much money you need to save up for your vacation fund. Having a target to shoot for can help you keep your expenses from getting away from you.

In a 2017 survey, 74% of the travelers surveyed said they have gone into debt to pay for a vacation, with $1,108 being the average debt amount. Source: 2017 LearnVest Money Habits and Confessions Survey

2. Reduce Your Budget

Do you have a monthly budget where you allocate money to certain areas like food and rent? As you plan for your vacation, you may want to consider taking another look at that budget. How much money are you currently spending? Are there any areas where you could cut back? If so, you could be putting that extra money towards your vacation fund.

Let’s look at food as an example. The money you spend on food can grow, especially if you have a family. But there may be areas where you’re overspending on food. And if there are, you might be able to relocate some of those expenses to your vacation. For instance, if you eat out at restaurants often, you may consider staying in and preparing a home cooked meal instead. Making your own meals can sometimes be a less expensive option. Or you might cut your grocery bill by buying items in bulk or growing some of your own food in a garden. These represent some simple examples, but any extra money you can save could potentially go toward your vacation savings.

How much money do you spend every month on entertainment? In 2013, the average household spent $2,482 on entertainment, amounting to 4.9 percent of total household spending. Could some of that money be put towards your vacation? If you tend to spend a lot on entertainment, think about other inexpensive options. For example, if you go to the movie theaters every weekend, you might save some money by only renting or streaming a movie instead. Some people have even gone so far as to cut cable completely. One 2018 study suggests that 70% of cable customers surveyed feel they get too little value for their money. If you are one such subscriber, could that monthly expense be put towards a vacation fund?

These are just a few examples you might want to consider. When you’re saving for vacation, even saving thirty to fifty dollars every month could go a long way toward realizing your travel plans.

3. Set Aside Money Every Month

As part of your budget, you may already be regularly setting aside an amount of money intended for savings. That might mean retirement money, college funds, or other expenses. You might want to think about doing the same for your vacation fund.

You can do this in a variety of ways. Some people choose to take a set amount and save it in a safe location. You could call this the “piggy bank” method. It’s can be easy-to-follow plan and a possible idea for families who want everyone to contribute in some way. Others may actually choose to set up a savings account which is solely dedicated to saving money for a vacation. In this case, you could be earning interest in addition to the money you save.

However you decide to do it, most methods involve picking an amount of money to set aside for your trip, and doing it every month. With this strategy, consistency may be the key.

4. Earn More Money on the Side

Budgeting for your future travels may help free up a little more money, but for some, that’s not enough. To save up even more, you might want to consider additional opportunities to earn extra cash. This might mean getting a side job. Or it could include a seasonal job, like shoveling snow or working as a lifeguard. You might even consider turning a hobby of yours into a side job. For example, if you like to paint for fun, you may think about selling some of your paintings.

For some, a side job isn’t a realistic option, but you can still find ways to earn extra money. You may, for example, choose to work extra hours at your regular job to earn some overtime pay. Or you could look through your belongings to see what old items you could put up for sale. Selling items online may also be a possibility. Or you can go with an old fashioned garage sale.

As you consider how to save money for vacation, remember that even small savings can add up. With some creativity, you might come up with some of your own ideas that can help earn more cash for your trip.

5. Look for Rewards

While you consider ways to earn more travel money with your budget, don’t forget about other perks that can help your vacation savings plans. Some credit cards, for example, may offer a reward system or cash back.

What you do with the possible reward points or cash back you may accrue is obviously up to you. If you have a cash back card, for example, you might opt to use the money you get back to buy a plane ticket. Alternatively, you might decide to stow the money away to have extra spending money on your trip. Again, how you use a credit card is a personal decision. Please also note that not every credit card gives rewards. You might want to take the time to check the credit cards you have now to see if they offer rewards. You may be surprised how quickly you can earn travel rewards with your credit card.

6. Look for Discounts

For many people, the hunt for a bargain not only helps save money, it can also be a fun challenge. Some people might search for discounts for food while others look for entertainment bargains. Applying a discount to these areas can be a strategy when it comes to saving for a vacation. But what about finding discounts for the vacation itself?

As mentioned above, various expenses can come with your vacation, from travel to accommodations. Any one of these items may have a discount connected to them if you know where to look. In the case of vacation packages, you might decide to travel somewhere during one location’s off-season. If you go during a time when fewer people visit, hotels and attractions may offer lower rates to bring in more tourists. This might require a bit of research on your part to discover how long an off-season lasts and if lower rates even apply, but it could be worth the extra effort.

At the same time, a bit of flexibility on your part may lead to discounts. Instead of giving yourself a set departure date, you could show more flexibility and plan to travel any time during a certain month. If you search for plane tickets over a larger span of time, you could find a date that will feature cheaper rates.

7. Work Together

Teams may get more done together than they would individually. Think about how that idea might work in connection with how to save for a vacation. If multiple people go on vacation together, you could all help in the effort of saving enough money. Traveling as a group may even help reduce costs such as transportation and accommodation stays by sharing or splitting expenses.

Groups may even provide you with added encouragement and motivation as you each do your part in working toward a goal. And as an added benefit, you may be able to enjoy a vacation with others who are close to you.

Don't Let Your Vacation Remain a Dream

The costs of travel can sometimes feel intimidating, but if you plan ahead and save as part of your budget, you may find that even big vacations become a possibility. Want to know how to save for a vacation? The right research and preparation could take you a long way. And who knows? You may find that all the extra time and effort working toward that goal could make your trip all the more enjoyable.


We hope that you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.