7 Steps to Take Your Budget on Vacation, and STILL HAVE FUN!
Ok, so no one wants to think about their budget when they’re on vacation! How fun would that be? But planning your vacation-spending ahead of time, can give you the freedom you want when you finally get away! Follow these tips to save beforehand, and enjoy your vacation without running out of funds in Timbuktu!
Step 1 – Make a plan.
Look for package deals, comparison shop online, and come up with a realistic cost for lodging, airfare/fuel costs, and transportation. Sites like Kayak, Expedia and even AirBnB are great sources. Don’t forget to plan for transportation when you’re there. Driving? Check gas prices, or use an app like Gas Buddy. You may be surprised at the cost of gas in a different state (or country). As you save up for your vacation, put your weekly (bi-weekly/monthly) amount in an account you do not touch so that money will be available when you need it. Consider a vacation club at your local bank or credit union. Remember, purchasing airfare ahead of time can save you money (Tuesdays are usually best, and purchasing within 45 – 60 days of your departure date is recommended by Huffington Post), but waiting for a special deal on a hotel or group trip may also save you money.
Step 2 – Decide on a daily budget. Daily living expenses can add up and you’ll need to save for those as well. Food, entrance fees, equipment rentals. Calculate what you’ll need based on your plans, then bump it up 10% - 15% to account for sudden changes in plan or pricing. When you’re ready to go, use envelopes with cash for each day of your trip and prepay for items when you can, but make certain you don’t pay for something you might cancel later. Make sure to lock those daily cash envelopes in your hotel safe rather than leaving them in your hotel room or your entire vacation could be a bust. At the end of each day, if there is extra money in that day’s envelope, move it to the next day, or save it for a big “final day celebration”.
Step 3 – Don’t get caught up buying gifts for everyone you know! Make a list of the people you really want to get something for, and set a budget. Don’t exceed it, and don’t get caught up in the moment! Those people will love you regardless of what you bring back for them from your vacation.
Step 4 – Carry a credit card for emergencies only! Please note: Finding an amazing pair of shoes that you absolutely must have is NOT this kind of emergency.
Step 5 – Eat Local. That doesn’t mean Farm-to-Table, but avoid eating in more pricey hotel restaurants or paying all the associated fees that come with using room service. Instead, get out and explore. Trying street food, food trucks, local cafes, and the local grocery store can definitely cut back on your total cost of meals during vacation. And you’ll have a chance to explore a bit more of the local culture.
Step 6 – Research your destination. Look for discounts at museums, amusement parks, concerts, etc. There are free events, and discounts available in most cities and towns. Check Groupon for the location you’re visiting. It’s a great source for discounted fun on vacation.
Step 7 – Have fun, and remember, there’s always next year if you see something you didn’t plan for!
Come home from vacation relaxed, and looking forward to planning for the next vacation. Now you know it’s possible with a budget!
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