Ah, vacation! It’s a time to let loose, have fun, and leave your worries behind. But you don’t want to be too footloose and fancy-free during your jaunt, lest it cause financial headaches when you return home. Follow these tips to get the rest and relaxation you need without breaking the bank.
Have a spending plan
The first step to having a carefree trip is creating a budget you can afford. There are two key factors to consider when doing so—how much you can save for it and the cost of the trip itself. One way to assess the first is to calculate how much money you’ll be able to set aside in each of the months leading up to your vacation to pay for it. You can also review your current savings to decide how much you want to allocate to your trip. The earlier you start planning, the more time you’ll have to build your funds, increasing your flexibility when making your plans.
As for vacation expenses, it should be easy to determine how much you’ll spend on lodging and travel since you can review these costs beforehand. If you’re driving, try a gas cost calculator like the one from Omni Calculator to compute your fuel costs. It might be trickier to estimate what you’ll spend on things like food, sightseeing, and souvenirs. If you put together an itinerary, however, you can get a ballpark figure for these expenses. You could use an app like TripCase or simply estimate what you’ll pay by looking online for local restaurant menu prices and for the cost of tours, entertainment, and other activities. To keep your spending within reason, try to overestimate how much you’ll need by just a little, which will create extra wiggle room in your budget. Also, consider setting a limit on how much you will spend per day or during your entire trip.
Certain times of the year and destinations are more expensive than others, so carefully select where and when to travel. For example, if you want to go to Walt Disney World, it’ll be more expensive to visit on the Fourth of July than in September after the school year starts. Or if you’re open to where to travel for the holiday, you could save by picking a destination such as Philadelphia, where you can visit historic sites like Independence Hall and watch fireworks for free over the Delaware River.
There are other ways timing and location could affect your costs as well. For instance, you could skip subway or cab fares if you reserve a room downtown, but if you want to leave your car at the hotel, you might have to pay parking fees. Your hotel room might cost less on weekdays than on weekends too.
Put it pause
If you will be on vacation for a few weeks, you may be able to suspend some of the services you normally pay for, such as your gym membership or your streaming, home-cleaning, or lawn-mowing service. Then you can put that money toward your trip and lower its impact on your wallet. You could also set your thermostat so your HVAC system will work less while you’re away to save some cash.
Limit your spending
Setting ground rules is one way to keep your spending in check. For instance, if your accommodations include a kitchen, you could plan to make your own simple breakfasts and lunches, allowing you to spend more on dinners. You could also carry a refillable water bottle and pack snacks so you’ll be less tempted to buy pricier ones during your travels.
Save on souvenirs
Your spending can add up quickly when you go souvenir shopping. If you have fun buying vacation trinkets, then make room in your budget for one or two, and target useful ones, such as a bottle of wine or handmade soap from local vendors. You could also commemorate your vacation without opening your wallet by snapping photos, collecting pretty stones or shells, or sketching the places you visit.
Many hotels and airlines offer benefits for their frequent travelers, so if you typically use a particular brand when you travel, such as Hilton or Marriott hotels or Delta or United airlines, join its rewards program. That way you’ll accumulate points you can use on future trips to bring down your costs. You can even get extras and upgrades, such as free breakfasts or first-class accommodations. Many food establishments, such as Starbucks, Red Robin, and Chipotle, also have rewards programs that can help you reduce your eating expenses. And consider using a rewards credit card to earn cash back on purchases before, during, and after your trip, no matter what you buy.
Splurge a little
It’s important that you enjoy your vacation, so if there’s something you really want to see or do, don’t automatically forgo it because of cost. Instead, allocate money for it and cut back elsewhere, such as on sightseeing. You could use a map app to tour the locale on foot or enjoy admission-free experiences like going on a hike or visiting a museum or local market. The less you spend on your daily activities, the more you can splurge on the experiences you’re most excited about.
With enough preparation and budgeting, you can both fully enjoy and happily remember your next vacation—without burning a hole in your wallet.
This article was prepared by ReminderMedia.
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