I’m a firm believer that just about anyone can go on vacation, even if money is tight. If traveling is your biggest priority in life, you can get there with a savings plan and a bit of creativity.
Don’t let other people discourage you. Saving for a vacation is all about trade-offs and priorities. Someone else’s priority might be saving for a new car or buying a new house. I have a few savings accounts but I put the bulk of my savings into my travel fund since it’s a huge priority for me. Fancy designer shoes and going to movies? Not so much.
Here are six ways that I save for vacations:
Choose your destination
Have a destination in mind before you start saving; it will make it easier to reach that goal and you’ll be able to more easily determine your minimum budget. If you’re planning a week-long trip to Guatemala, your budget is going to be drastically different from two weeks in Europe.
Once you’ve chosen your destination, research average hotel prices, transportation, food, attraction fees and any other miscellaneous expenses you might incur. Use sites such as Tripadvisor, Lonely Planet and Fodors to estimate costs. Remember that it’s always better to overestimate than underestimate.
Take your total vacation cost and divide it by the number of weeks until your planned dates to determine the amount you need to save per paycheck.
Create a budget and set up a dedicated savings fund
I set up a savings account dedicated to traveling. I have a set amount of money taken out my paycheck and deposited directly into that account and it really adds up over time.
A transfer of $50 per paycheck adds up to $1200 and can cover most of cost of a trip to an inexpensive destination, such as Guatemala.
Save every single day
Most of us spend money on frivolous items every day without thinking twice. A $5 latte and a $20 happy hour all add up. Skip these extra purchases and put the money you would’ve spent directly into a savings account.
On days when I bring my lunch instead of eating out, I move the money that I saved from my checking account into my savings account. Every latte and lunch out that you skip brings you one step closer to your dream vacation.
Sell items you aren’t using
eBay, Craigslist and yard sales are all fantastic ways of getting rid of unwanted items. I spent a few weekends listing old, unwanted clothing and shoes on eBay and made $500 which I promptly transferred into my travel fund.
Look through your closet to see what you can sell. Perhaps you have an old camera, an old phone or sporting equipment that you never use? You’ll also have the benefit of decluttering your house at the same time.
Save your change
I once paid for a week’s worth of lodging by saving change and dollar bills in a jar. You won’t be able to pay for your entire trip with this method but it can help pay for food or vacation activities.
Get a side job
Still don’t have enough money to go on vacation? Part-time side jobs that don’t require a lot of extra time can help you reach your vacation savings goal. Consider babysitting your friends’ kids, freelance writing, coaching the dance team, etc. Check out this article for ways to make an extra $1,000 per month.
You’ll may need to periodically remind yourself why you’re saving up for your next trip. To stay on track, consider signing up for language lessons at your local community college. Visit Trover.com to see stunning photos of your destination, along with some tips. Change your phone’s wallpaper to an image of your destination.
How do you save for your vacation? Share in the comments section below.