Are you dreaming of white sandy beaches, thrill rides with the kids, or even museums full of exhibits to explore? It’s the time of year when many of us are starting to shake off the winter doldrums and plan our summer getaways. Planning and looking forward to vacations are (almost) as fun as the trip itself, but getting a head start can also give you a chance to start saving and make the most of your travel budget. Here are a few tips to get you on the right path toward a fun and relaxing summer getaway:
- Set up a separate account. It’s helpful to set up a separate savings account for “fun” items like travel that you can contribute to on a regular basis or whenever you have extra cash, like your tax return or a rebate check.
- Make a few swaps. A few simple swaps can help your account grow more quickly and ensure you are spending on the important things, like your dream vacation! Perhaps decide to only go out for lunch once a month, and earmark the amount you would’ve spent for your vacation fund.
- Contribute automatically. You can also consider having a small percentage directly deposited from your paycheck into the savings account. Those little additions can add up over the course of a year or so, especially if you are earning interest.
- Decide on a goal. Everyone has different ideas of what their ideal trip looks like. Sit down with your travel companions to start thinking about what yours might be to help create a budgeting goal. A long weekend in a nearby city will likely cost much less than two weeks in Europe (but you may be able to make that shorter trip much sooner!). Considering what you are comfortable spending and your other budget priorities (paying down school loans, buying a new car, etc.) may also help determine a final number that you are working toward.
- Do some research. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, start looking at airfare, hotels, food and activities in the area to estimate how much you may need to save. Use this information to make any adjustments to your vacation savings contributions.
- Look for deals. By planning early, you may be able to take advantage of special deals or packages. Also consider renting a house or apartment versus staying in a hotel or visiting locations during off-peak seasons to keep costs more manageable.
- Have fun! Get excited as you start to make final plans for your trip, and let the countdown begin!
Looking for ideas of where to head this summer (and affordably?)? Here are a few suggestions for this year’s top budget travel destinations:
For Health Advocate Members
If you are a Health Advocate member with access to the Wellness or EAP+Work/Life Programs, you can take advantage of financial wellness workshops and other resources to help you plan a budget for your dream summer vacation.