6 tips for how to save for a vacation

Interested in getting away from it all but lacking some funds? Here are 6 tips on how to save for a vacation.

Work, school, the day-to-day grind…sometimes you just need to get away from it all. That’s what vacations are for. A time to catch your breath. See the world. See your family. Experience something new or take a trip down memory lane. Whatever you’re looking to get into on your next trip, the goal is always to create memories that’ll last a lifetime. 

But before you can sign off from reality, you’re going to have to do some planning. Specifically, how are you going to finance your trip? After all, travel costs money, so figuring out how to save for a vacation is at least as important as picking a destination. 

Don’t worry. With a little preparation, you can make your vacation more affordable. Just consider these 6 suggestions on how to save money for a vacation, and you could be on your way without letting the costs get away from you.

1. Plan for the details

Vacation expenses add up fast. But if you know how much money you’ll need, you’ll know how much you need to save. Plus, having a target to shoot for can help you keep your expenses in check.

Saving for vacation is all about planning. And choosing your destination is only the first step. Before you can build your budget, you’ll want to take a closer look at the details. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What’s the purpose of your trip? Will you be visiting family, seeing the sights, attending a special event, or doing something else? 
  • Will you be traveling alone, with someone or as part of a group? 
  • What time of year will you be traveling? Will the climate at your destination be different from what you’re used to at home? 
  • How will you be getting to your destination? Will you be flying, taking a train, driving your own car, or making other arrangements? If you are not bringing a car, how will you get around once you reach your destination? 
  • What about accommodations? Will you be staying with friends or family, or will you need to pay for a room? How long will you be staying? 

These are only a few of the details you’ll need to work out. And, if you’re traveling internationally, there are a lot more considerations to add to this list. 

But here’s the good news: As you identify possible expenses, you’ll also be able to see areas where you can save. For example, if you’re going to be flying, shop around early to find the best fares. And if you can, plan your travel dates around better airline ticket prices. If you’re driving, check your route and plan your pit stops for areas with lower gas prices

The more you plan now, the fewer unexpected costs you’ll have to deal with later. 

2. Trim your budget

Is your vacation fund a line item on your budget? If not, you might consider re-evaluating it. You may need to cut back in some areas in order to add this new expense. Ask yourself, how much money are you currently spending? Are there any areas where you could cut back?

So, where do you start trimming? Take food for example. There may be areas where you can save. If you eat out at restaurants regularly, try cutting your expenses by prepping more meals at home. Or brush up on tips to save on your grocery bill.

Remember that when you’re saving for vacation, cutting a little here and there from your monthly expenses could go a long way.

3. Set aside money every month

Cutting your spending and putting savings toward a vacation fund is a great start. But you can take things a step further by setting aside a small amount of every paycheck you get. This of course will depend on how strict your budget is and how much you have left over once you cover the essentials. But if you can afford to set aside even a small percentage of your earnings, that money can accrue over time.

Consider setting up a savings account just for your vacation. This way, you could be earning interest in addition to the money you save.

However you decide to save, consistency is key. Maybe $50 won’t cover the cost of a vacation. But $50 every month for a year is an extra $600 you can put toward your vacation.

4. Earn more money on the side

Budgeting for your future travels could easily encourage you to get more resourceful with how you save. But if you feel like it’s still not enough, consider additional opportunities to earn extra cash. Side jobs and seasonal jobs may be the answer.

That said, if you’re already working 40 hours a week, you might not have the time (or the energy) to take on another job. An alternative option is to turn a hobby or an interest into a second source of income. Local classifieds, online marketplaces and internet auction houses are great places to sell crafts, artworks and even unwanted items. Or, you can plan an old-fashioned garage sale.

As you consider ways to earn additional income, remember that even small savings add up. So, get creative. Any extra money you earn now will mean there’s less you have to save for your trip.

5. Look for rewards

Saving, budgeting and earning are all effective ways to build your vacation fund. But there’s another possibility that sometimes gets overlooked: credit card rewards programs. Credit card rewards can be a big help when it comes to vacation budgeting.

How do credit card rewards programs work? Typically, you earn points as you use the card—and those points can then be used in different ways. If you have a cash-back card, you might opt to use your cash rewards to offset food or entertainment costs. Points earned from a travel rewards card, on the other hand, can often be applied toward common travel expenses like hotels and airfare.

Just be aware that not every credit card offers rewards. Take the time to explore the benefits of  the credit cards you already have to see if you can use them to earn points for your trip. You may be surprised by how quickly these points can build up.

6. Work together

They say that many hands make light work. And for vacations, the same principle applies. So, why not turn your trip into a group effort? 

Before you finalize your vacation plans, see if you know anyone who might want to join you. Having more than one traveler can mean reduced transportation and accommodation costs—if you don’t mind traveling or rooming together. 

But group vacations also offer a less obvious advantage: encouragement. If everyone is depending on each other to do their part to make the vacation happen, there’s extra motivation to save. And as for spending time and traveling with people you appreciate? Well, that’s another huge perk. 

What are you waiting for?

Travel isn’t always cheap, but the chance to take a break and see the world could be worth it. And if you plan ahead and build a budget, you might be surprised at just how much of a vacation you can afford. 

The right research and preparation will take you a long way. So, take those first steps: Identify potential costs, trim expenses where you can, regularly set aside money, put credit card rewards to work and don’t be afraid to get your friends involved. And who knows? You may find that all the extra time and effort working toward your goal makes your trip even more enjoyable. 

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