5 Tips for Planning a Vacation Budget
Whether you’re planning a quick getaway or the trip of a lifetime, establishing (and sticking to) a vacation budget allows you to travel while still making progress toward other financial goals. As with any large purchase, a vacation will be more enjoyable if you don’t have to go into debt to pay for it. Let’s take a look at how to plan a vacation budget and what it should include.
Establish a Savings Goal
If you know exactly where you want to go and what you’re going to do when you get there, figure out how much you’ll need to save to make it happen. On the other hand, if you know you want to get away but you’re not sure where to go, set a goal to save a certain amount — $500 is a good starting point — then research trips you can take for that amount.
Be sure to plan your budget around the costs of goods and services at your destination. They could be significantly higher than what you pay at home.
Include Essentials and Extras
There’s more to a travel budget than airfare and hotel. A complete travel budget should include:
- Transportation to and from your destination as well as while you’re there. This can include rental cars, ride shares and public transportation.
- Accommodations, such as hotel rooms or vacation rentals
- Food, including snacks and drinks
- Activities, such as museums, tours, shows and excursions
- Shopping, including souvenirs and sundries
- Gratuities for drivers, housekeepers and other service team members
Speed Up Your Savings
There are many ways to fund your vacation budget. You can set up a dedicated savings account and have a portion of your paycheck directly deposited into it (if your employer offers that option). You can also get a part-time job and devote all your earnings to your vacation fund. Additionally, you can sell unused items you have around the house, like clothing and sporting goods. And finally, you can give up luxuries like dining out for several months and dedicate those funds to your vacation budget instead.
Look for Ways to Cut Costs
Research and planning are key when it comes to keeping your vacation affordable. Be sure to comparison shop airfares, hotels and rental cars. Check to see if bundled packages offers more savings than booking separately.
If you’re traveling to an area where you have friends or family, see if staying with them for all or part of your trip is an option. That can save you loads on accommodations. Just be sure to offer to return the favor when they’re in your area.
If staying in a hotel, purchase snacks and drinks for your room to avoid the temptation of the mini bar and take advantage of free breakfast if it’s offered.
Pack for Possibilities
While it’s impossible to anticipate everything that could happen on a trip, packing some items you might need will save you from having to pay high airport or hotel gift shop prices. Be sure to bring along things like basic over-the-counter medications and first aid supplies. Keep prescription meds in your carry-on in case checked bags are delayed. And a refillable water bottle will help you stay hydrated everywhere you go, without constantly paying for bottled water or other beverages. Bonus: it’s environmentally friendly, too!