People may choose not to travel for a variety of reasons, but one of the most common reasons is money. I recently posted what I figured to be what the average vacation costs a family of four for one week…$4000. That’s pretty big chunk of money for most people. So, I wanted to post some thoughts on how to save for a vacation. Use my travel budget vacation cost worksheet to estimate what your trip will cost.
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LOWER YOUR COSTS
One of the easiest steps for how to save for a vacation is to lower the cost of your trip. If you need less money for the vacation, you’ll need to save up less. Obvious I know.
- Driving typically costs less than flying, check out my post on how to decide to fly or drive. Remember, driving long distances means an increase in car wear, more stops (i.e. more places to spend money), and possible hotel stopovers.
- Vacation rentals are a great option for many families. They often cost less than a hotel and provide more space. You can also save by preparing your own food, and you won’t have extra charges for things like parking, high speed internet, tipping, or resort fees.
- Food is one area that we like to save money. During travels, consider packing your own snacks & food so you’re not tempted to buy in route. We like to find hotels that offer complimentary breakfast so we remove that expense for each day of our trip. We’ve also packed in our own water and snacks to most attractions (be mindful of attraction policies).
- Look for free or low cost activities. Don’t go to an attraction every day, and find ways to experience the city/destination for free. We love driving to a local park or beach on our trips. We also typically spend a day at the hotel enjoying the pool or walking around.
- Shorten the trip length. If you stay less than a week, you can reduce the accommodation and food costs for your trip.
LOWER YOUR EXPENSES
What about lowering what you spend regularly as an option for how to save for a vacation?
- Have you heard how many people are getting rid of cable and or phone lines to save on their monthly bills? It’s not that much of a stretch anymore because of things like cell phones, Netflix, Hulu, and live streaming. You could save around $80 a month, which adds up to $960 after a year.
- Shop smarter. We recently had our insurance policies reviewed and it saved us about $200. We also like to check eBay and Amazon for purchasing our household products. Things like light bulbs, water filters, batteries, cat litter, even toilet paper, are typically cheaper online. Also, consider the DIY approach to maintenance. William recently fixed our washing machine thanks to a YouTube video instead of calling Sears for service.
- Eating out can cost a family a lot. We rarely leave a restaurant without paying $40+. Even fast food can cost our family $20+. If you’re a family who likes to eat out, just taking out one of these a week can save about $120 a month. That’s a cool $1440!
- Buy fewer non-essentials. Do you like to pick up things while you’re shopping that weren’t on your list and aren’t really needed? For example, that cute purse or that great toy that’s half off? Even spending $50 a month on non-essentials adds up to $600 in a year. Remember, no matter what percentage off the item is you can always choose to save 100%! Also, if you’re saving for a special trip, consider putting a photo in your wallet or with your credit card/cash so you remember when you pull out the money, it could be going towards that vacation.
SAVE UP MORE
The final tip for how to save for a vacation is to just save more!
- Have you guys heard of the 52 week money savings challenge? The idea is that you save up $1378 after one year of putting away money each week. They recommend starting with Week 1 at $1; Week 2 is $2… I actually like the idea of doing it in reverse because Christmas is always an expensive time of the year for us. So, save $52 week 1, $51 week 2…
- Sell, sell, sell! We’ve had some great luck adding to our income by selling stuff we would have donated or no longer use. Just this month we sold a winter coat and a box of girls clothing for $60. Have you upgraded any electronics and the old ones are just sitting there? Sell them! We love using ebay and craigslist to get things out of our home and money into our pockets!
- Do you have a talent that you can “offer” friends or family? This could be a way to have a second job but on your own terms. Offer up your talents and see if anyone needs some helping hands. You can even explain that you’re saving for a vacation. Just make sure you don’t spend money to make money unless it’s guaranteed.
So, that’s a long list! Hope these tips can help you figure out how to save for a vacation. Do you have any ideas I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear them!