Vacation Budgeting Tips for Planning Your Dream Vacation

There’s nothing like a vacation to refresh the outlook and recharge the batteries. Sadly, many of us assume that a getaway is simply too expensive to even dream about, so it isn’t something we consider.

The reality is that with a bit of prudence and planning, travel can be an extremely affordable prospect that fits within nearly any budget. So if you’ve been fantasizing about an escape, take a look at our handy step-by-step guide for making those dreams a reality. 

1) Plan Ahead

When we’re stir-crazy from looking at the same four walls day after day, the idea of just dropping everything and getting on a plane is always a tempting prospect. But making a travel plan is always a better way to work toward a more rewarding goal. So pull out your planner or calendar app well in advance of when you’d like to travel, and start thinking about viable dates. When does your work typically have a slow period where you’ll be less missed? What’s a span of time when you have no other engagements or obligations? By optimizing your schedule, you’ll be better able to enjoy a worry-free getaway. 

2) Set Fare Alerts 

Both the Apple App Store and Google Play offer countless handy mobile apps that track airfares (including KAYAK, AirFareWatchdog, and SkySkanner). What does this mean for you? When you set up your account on these apps, you can ask them to constantly scan available airfares to the places you’d like to go during a range of dates you choose. Then, when fares drop, the app will send you a mobile notification letting you know you have an opportunity to save. Often, you can bank big savings by booking flights during low-demand buying periods and flying at a later date.  

3) Start Saving

Once you’ve got a nice big red “X” on your calendar (and an idea of the price of your flight), it’s time to start saving. Start by identifying areas where you can trim costs. Do you have any subscriptions you haven’t used recently? Do you eat out more than once a week? Maybe you have some unused personal items you can cash in at second-hand stores or sell online. Wherever you’re able to trim your expenses or beef up your liquid cash, it all goes toward the bottom line. Even just packing a lunch to work rather than going out can free up around $10 per day, or $200 per month. It takes discipline to save. But once you imagine sipping a cocktail on the beach? That takeout sandwich might be easier to pass up.

4.) Determine Your Goal

Once you’ve got a date and a savings plan in place, it’s time to decide where to set the threshold for when you’ve saved enough. You’ve already considered the rough cost of a round-trip flight and ballparked your “getting there” cost. Now think about what dining out during the duration of your trip will be and build that into your bottom line. Will you be renting a car, or relying on taxis or rideshares to explore? Will you be visiting any attractions during your stay? And — of course — your accommodations will also need to be anticipated. Once you’ve got a rough idea of what all of that will cost, you’ll have a good idea of the number you’ll need to see in your savings account before you’re ready to get going. 

5.) Speaking of Savings Accounts…

A savings account can be a very helpful tool for keeping your vacation budget on-track. It sounds a little silly, but simply setting up a savings account at your financial institution — and separating that money from your daily-use checking or debit account — can be a big psychological motivator. Once that account is established, most banks and credit unions offer you handy tools for maintaining and increasing your savings. If you choose, you can set a certain percentage of your payroll direct deposit to automatically transfer to savings every payday. Or, you can set a goal to manually transfer a set amount of money at given times. Once that number starts to grow? You’ll start seeing it less as money you don’t have readily available, and more as representative of the fun you’ll have checking out your vacation destination. 

6.) Take Advantage of Travel Deals

When the time comes to book your accommodations, don’t miss out on the often-substantial travel offers available from the hotels at your destination. For instance, when you travel to San Diego, you’ll definitely want to be aware of the incredible specials at Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel & Marina. Our Advance Purchase Rate is especially helpful: Book at least 60 days in advance, and you’ll save up to 20% on your room. Then simply get those fare alerts set for your travel window, and that dream getaway to San Diego is closer than ever! If you’d like to stay in the loop on our exclusive travel offers, please feel free to sign up for our newsletter, and we’ll send the savings directly to you.