Can you believe that spring break is almost here? Shortly after that summer will be here and we'll all be thinking about vacation ideas. I don't know about you but I simply can not afford to take a last-minute vacation. For my family of five dropping everything and taking a family vacation just isn't in the budget. Vacations in my household are typically planned out at least a year in advance. Planning out my family vacations not only gives me plenty of time to save but to change our destination a million times.
Now you might be thinking that you already live on a tight budget so saving for a vacation isn't a possibility. I'm here to tell you that you can take an amazing vacation without going into debt! There is nothing worse than coming home from a vacation stressed over how to pay the bills, so let's go over some ideas for how to save for a vacation.
How to Save for a Vacation
Pick Several Destinations – When you are in the beginning stages of planning your vacation don't get your heart set on specific destination. Come up with three to five different locations you would be interested in traveling to. Make sure the destinations you come up with are all different than one and other. When coming up with your destinations think about amusement park locations, beach locations, national parks, islands and surrounding countries. You might be surprised at what is affordable and what isn't.
Research and Price Out Your Destinations – Now that you have a list of destinations you will want to start your research. This part takes time but is so worth it if you want to save money. I like to take each destination and research hotel prices, flights, gas to drive there, food and excursions. I also like to look into at least two different dates. I will typically pick a summer month and a late fall month. Keep track of all of your research in a notebook, excel spreadsheet or Evernote. Keep your research organized as it will come in handy when you go to make your vacation decision.
Create a Vacation Savings and A Vacation Budget – Now that you have picked your vacation destination it's time to start planning your savings and budget strategy. What I like to do is take the total price of the vacation and divide it by the number of months between today's date and the month before the vacation departure date.
Vacation price: $2750 Current Month: March 2014 Departure Month: June 2015. So not counting the month of June I know I have 15 months to save and I will need to save $183 each month.
Now that you know how much you need to save each month you will need to figure out how to work this amount into your budget. This is sometimes easier said than done but if you've done the previous steps you will know you've found the best location at the best price and you've given yourself ample time to save.
Come Up With Ways to Save – Coming up with ways to save can be hard especially if you are already working with a very tight budget. Here are a list of ways to save for your vacation:
- Check sites like Groupon for discounted hotels, car rentals and excursions in your desired vacation destination.
- Use coupons for grocery items and put your savings into your vacation fund.
- Start using cash and saving your change.
- Ask your bank about auto transferring money into a separate account that you've created just for your vacation.
- Have a garage sale.
- Give up eating out while saving for your vacation.
- Keep researching your destination for discounted hotel rooms and getaway packages. TravelZoo is a great place to look for bargain prices. Also check the popular deal sites such as, Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline, Kayak and Travelocity.
What ideas for how to save for a vacation do you have?