Did you save up enough for a killer vacation this year? If you want to have an unforgettable (and hopefully stress-free) experience, you need to plan wisely. Even though your trip may only be a week or two of every year, it’s worth thinking about, and saving for, all year long. Follow these 3 travel tips to help you successfully save for your next holiday away.
1. Build Your Vacation Savings Plan
While there are a lot of approaches you can take to making your vacation savings plan, like any budget, you can often boil it down to 2 different methods. You can:
- Set a dollar amount based on your yearly savings plan and income, and choose your destination based on your budget.
- Choose your destination, and set a dollar amount based on researched potential costs.
The first approach might be more conscious of your overall budget, but if there’s a destination you’re dying to see, you can still make it there with a reasonable plan. Either way, make sure you’re accounting for all the possibilities – travel, hotel rooms, food, activities, souvenirs, etc.
Once you know how much you need to save, consider how and where you’re going to set aside the needed money. Are you going to earmark some of your current savings? Cut back on expenses to put more in your account? Or there’s always the tried and true method of saving your pocket change in a jar! Consider opening a separate savings account, or utilizing a special occasion account like a holiday savings account if you already have one. This will help you keep your vacation savings separate from your regular savings and remind you not to dip into your vacation fund.
You could come up with a weekly plan, like setting aside $25 each week, or starting small and increasing your contribution over time. With fall coming up, in addition to regular savings, think about practical ways you could maximize seasonal savings. Are there ways you could cut back on back-to-school spending? Do you need a new pair of fall boots, or is last year’s pair still good to go? Could you recycle a Halloween costume instead of buying a new one? Any time you find a way to cut back, deposit that money straight into your vacation fund.
2. Add it to Your Yearly Savings Plan
Even if you’re using a dedicated, separate holiday savings account for your vacation fund, make sure you’re working this individual budget into part of your larger yearly savings plan. Cutting out one of your weekly coffee runs? That’s great, but make sure your budget reflects your change in priorities. Keeping a big picture view of your monthly, seasonal, and annual budget in relation to your vacation savings will help keep you accountable. You can say you want to cut out $50 from your food budget every month to put towards a trip, but if you’re not adjusting your budget and actively watching your spending, it could be easy to forget.
3. Save Early, Book Smart
Whether you have a clear destination in mind or you’re trying to stick to a strict dollar amount, there are a lot of ways to save on the vacation itself. Since you’re already planning ahead with your savings, you have plenty of time to research and capitalize on deals as they come up throughout the year. Plus, there’s no downside to coming in under budget! For example:
BOOK YOUR DREAM DESTINATION FOR THE OFF-SEASON
If you’re locked into going to a specific location, consider planning your travel outside of peak season. Peak season varies for every destination, so do some research into when travel costs are highest. Even if there isn’t a clear answer out there, a quick look at hotel and flight prices should show you when prices spike. If you have some flexibility with your scheduling, use it to your advantage. For instance, if you want to go to a family destination and aren’t traveling with kids, book while school is still in session. The weather can still be great without the increased prices associated with market demand.
CASH IN ON REWARDS
There are a ton of rewards to cash in on, and you can even get some perks for free. Some destinations offer discounts if you’re a AAA member. Know what hotel you want to stay at? See if they have a loyalty program available – most are free to join, and offer some great perks. Not to mention all of the great rewards you can get by strategically using a credit card. This might be a great time to redeem miles you’ve been racking up.
CONSIDER LESS POPULAR DESTINATIONS
Just because a city hasn’t hit it big yet, doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting. Consider choosing from up-and-coming cities where travel costs are low, allowing you to live it up more on hotel rooms or meals. You could also visit an affordable vacation destination where the US dollar is strong and you can maximize your budget.
SAVE AT A HIGHER RATE
Whether you are considering opening a dedicated holiday savings account or you’re planning to save in your existing account, make sure you’re capitalizing on your savings with a good interest rate. Compare savings accounts from Santander Bank to see which account could help you maximize any money you’re putting away. Plus, with automatic savings transfers from a linked checking account and online or mobile money transfers between accounts, it’s easy to meet your savings goals.