Got two tickets to paradise?
Daydreaming of getting away from it all, but don't think you can afford it? We’ve got news for you: you can! But you’ll need to learn how to save for a vacation first. Whether you want to relax on a quiet beach or run wild at an amusement park with the kids, you’ll have to set aside money to cover your travel costs.
From lodging to eating every meal out, one or two carefree weeks away from home takes serious planning - but if you use a budget tracker and abide by some basic financial advice, you’ll be enjoying the sights and sounds of a new city sooner than you think.
Before you run off to get some R&R, you’ll need a financial plan so you can check off destinations on your bucket list and make memories that will last a lifetime - without excessive credit card debt or overdrawn notices on your checking account.
Here are a few tips to follow if you’re wondering how to budget for a vacation:
Tip #1: Plan early to take advantage of lower-cost bookings and settle your responsibilities at home.
Everyone has moments when they want to jump in the car or hop on a plane and escape to a quiet, relaxing place away from their hectic life. But escaping is more enjoyable when money isn't an issue, and other responsibilities at work and at home are covered.
Make arrangements early so you’re not scrambling for accommodations during a peak season when others are also planning their own vacations. Saving a little each month toward your vacation can help avoid racking up debt on your credit card that you'll have to deal with later.
Remember: it's hard to save for another vacation if you're still paying off last year's trip.
If you have pets that are staying at home, don't forget to add kennel fees or other expenses related to their care while you're away. Is your four-legged buddy traveling with you? Add in pet fees to your travel budget planner at hotels and kennel services you’ll need to use when your pet can't be with you at restaurants and attractions. You might also think about a vet visit to be sure all their paperwork and shots are in order.
Get on the path to bliss.
Tip #2: Start saving months in advance to avoid unforeseen and unexpected costs.
The longer you save, the better your vacation can be. If your travel fund is already healthy and your usual emergency funds are in order, you can divert some new savings into a vacation fund. As little as $165 a month adds up to nearly $2,000 at the end of the year. If that still seems a bit much, consider that $165 a month breaks down to only $5.50 a day. Enter these numbers into a vacation expense planner so you have an idea of how much money you have for travel.
If you still don’t think you can afford a vacation by squirreling away funds each month, you'll have to get creative. For example, yard sales bring in a little cash and few households don't have forgotten clothing and other possessions to spare. If you can pay off a bill such as a credit card or loan, redirect that payment into the vacation fund. Trust us, you'll never miss it.
Plan for a vacation now and next year could find you sunning on a remote beach in the tropics, sitting by a campfire in the northern mountains, or barreling full-speed down a water slide in Florida.
Tip #3: Create budget categories in a trip budget planner to track different expenses like food, travel, entertainment, etc.
In order to get an accurate idea of how much money you’ll need to save for a vacation, it’s important you use a travel budget planner to divide up your travel categories. For example, you might want to have funds set aside for the following categories:
- Childcare fees
- Local travel costs
- Activity costs
Your categories in your vacation budget planner might be slightly different but you can use these as a guide.
FAQ: Plan a Vacation Budget
How much should I budget for my vacation?
That depends! There is no hard number that can act as a guide because everyone’s idea of a “vacation” is different. Are you planning on taking a luxury vacation or hanging around locally for a staycation? You’ll also want to take into consideration how many people are going, airfare, lodging, food, the length of your trip, and your itinerary. When you know these details, you can get a better idea of how much money you’ll need to comfortably travel. Remember to use different budget categories so you can set aside money for each aspect of your vacation.
How do you plan a vacation on a budget?
If you’re looking to plan a budget-friendly vacation, it’s a good idea to travel somewhere with lots of free activities. National parks are a low-cost destination where you can hike, bike, and sightsee without going home with a giant hole in your wallet or a huge amount sitting on your credit card.
How much money should you budget for food on vacation?
There isn’t a “right” answer to this question because it depends on your travel plans. For example, if you opt for an AirBnB, you might have access to a full kitchen so you can save money by cooking some meals and staying in. On the other hand, you might also not want to bother with cooking - we get it, you’re on vacation after all! But if that’s the case, you’ll need to beef up your food category in your vacation budget planner.
How do you plan a family vacation budget?
By saving money strategically! Easier said than done of course, but by using a budget app like Mint, you can plan your dream vacation without worrying about running out of funds midway through. The key is to start saving early so you have plenty of time to flesh out your vacation plan and how you’d like to spend your money when it’s time to say au revoir to your day-to-day life.
Why should I take a vacation?
It's easy to say that you work to live, not live to work. But the reality is that most adults spend more waking hours at work than at home. That takes a toll over time. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. for Psychology Today, explains that vacations aren't just a luxury, they're important for your health.
Americans have built-in guilt when it comes to taking time off. Tuesday afternoon at a spa or Wednesday on a golf course seems almost sinful if there's work that could be done. But all of that work without a break takes its toll. It can also lead to unplanned time off from illness or injury.
Mint.com helps you meet your vacation goals. With simple access to all of your financial accounts and an easy-to-read interface, you can watch your vacation funds grow, even when the trip is months away.
Sign up for your free Mint.com account today!