As the seasons change and the temperatures rise, many of us are beginning to think about our upcoming summer getaways. Whether you’re considering exploring a new city, relaxing at the beach, or riding roller coasters at an amusement park, getting your planning started early can pay dividends down the road. Starting now may help you snag better deals and reserve tickets and more before they sell out, but it 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 dining out 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:
And don’t forget to plan ahead to stay healthy while traveling, too!