You may be dreaming of your perfect vacation destination right now, as many of us are. While you desperately want to follow through on this plan, your bank account simply cannot handle another big expense. So how can you turn this idea into reality? It’s all about proper planning! First and foremost, you need to establish a budget and how much you want to spend; but this really depends on a few varying factors. Here are some tips to help you get organize for your next vacation:
- Vacation Spot
Where exactly do you want to go? To start saving, you need to establish a budget; and that really depends on where you are going. Whether it is Disneyland, a cruise, or a road trip across the country; decide on where you want to vacation. If you can’t choose on just one destination, list two or three potential areas to keep your options open. Research hotel accommodations, restaurants, and places to visit so you can get some sort of idea of how much things will cost. While you are thinking about where you want to go, also consider how long you want to be away for. Your vacation budget will depend on how many days, weeks, or even months you plan on taking. The length of time you are on vacation may also affect your work (and pay). Take all these factors into consideration.
- Time of Year
If you are flying out to your dream vacation, the time of year you decide to travel can impact your air fare ticket prices tremendously. Generally, it is cheaper to fly out in early September (when most kids start back to school), the two weeks immediately following American Thanksgiving (before the Christmas rush in mid-December), and most of January. If you decide to go on a road trip, look at weather trends between you and your destination point during your vacation. No one wants to travel during tornado season, and through snow or rain conditions.
- Nail Down a Vacation Budget
Once you know where you are going, and when; it’s time to outline a budget. When figuring out the number, include air fare, hotel accommodation, potential car rentals, gas, and food costs. The best way to come up with a realistic number is to over-budget on items, rather than underscore what things will cost. Other pieces to include in your vacation budget are shopping trips, day excursions, activities, and a potential emergency fund (i.e. medication for sick travelers, needing to buy clothes because of lost or damaged luggage, etc.).
- Time to Save
Many people save in different ways; find something that works for you and your lifestyle, and go with it! For some, putting aside a weekly, bi-weekly, or month amount from your paycheck into a ‘vacation fund’ can be quite successful. For others, saving means having to give up something they love (i.e. weekly take-out, shopping trips, restaurants, or morning coffee shop runs), to put money towards their vacation. Perhaps you can place your annual work bonus towards your vacation fund – or even your income tax refund.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. This can ring true when it comes to vacation planning. While everyone loves the spontaneity of a surprise getaway, sometimes the best bang for your buck can be ironing out a solid travel plan, to ensure you make the most of your vacation memories.