Everybody dreams of fabulous summer vacations, but for some of us, a monthlong tour of Europe or a luxury cruise just isn't a reality. One of the most important things to keep in mind when you're planning a vacation is that it's supposed to be a relaxing getaway, so don't go into more debt to pay for your trip. These five tips will help you get started on saving for your summer vacation, and teach you how to budget for that real dream trip down the road.
Set A Reasonable Goal
Be realistic about what you can afford. If your budget is really tight, do plan that staycation--visit local waterparks, lakes, mountains, and museums. Eat out, shop, and have fun--but come home to your own beds and avoid costly hotels, car rentals, and airfare. Bonus--when you're gone all day, your house stays tidy.
Online travel sites are a huge help in figuring out how much a particular trip will cost; look around for places and activities that are within how much you can save. The goal is to have a getaway that's completely paid for, so be realistic about how much you can save between now and your vacation dates.
Plan for all your expenses--not just hotels, food, and gas or airfare. How much are the activities you'll want to do? What about movies or eating out? Shopping? Will you need to board any pets while you're away? Set up a budget, either on paper or a spreadsheet, so you'll know exactly how much you'll need. Add 10-15% to your total for incidentals--snacks, souvenirs, and the things you forgot to pack.
Pay yourself a little extra every month by cutting some expenses. Look at your online banking to see how much you spend on throwaway stuff every month, and try these cost-cutting tips.
- Cut or lower your cable and internet subscriptions
- Make coffee at home--a daily latte can add up to over $60 each month
- Get reacquainted with your iron; limit dry cleaning to clothing that can't be washed
- Bring your lunch to work, and eat at home--make a pizza instead of ordering one
Add Some Income
There are several ways you can increase your income to save more for your trip. Have the kids babysit, mow lawns, water plants, or petsit to earn their own spending money for the trip. Clean out your closets and have a yard sale, or sell things online--there are selling apps like LetGo, OfferUp, and Craigslist that let you earn extra cash without paying high sales fees. Pick up a second job if you can, and put all your earnings towards your trip.
Some families fund their vacations by offering their homes to renters on sites like Airbnb or VRBO, or driving for Uber, Lyft, or GrubHub to make some extra cash.
Set Up A Vacation Fund
Open a bank account that's dedicated to your vacation, and put a certain amount in every time you or your spouse get paid. Every week, put the money you save by making your own coffee and lunches in an envelope, and deposit it to your vacation fund every couple of weeks. Seeing that number grow will motivate you to look for more ways to save.
Your dream vacation is within reach--and taking a vacation knowing you won't have monstrous credit card bills awaiting your return will ensure a relaxing trip, regardless of how far from home you travel.