If you are planning to take a trip this year, saving in advance will help to manage costs and avoid credit card debt. Here are some tips for planning your dream vacation:
- Determine the cost. Before committing to a destination, research the price tag. In addition to transportation, food, and lodging expenses, factor in costs for all of the activities on your wish list. If the total is more than you can afford, consider scaling back your plans or delaying the trip so you have more time to save.
- Start saving. Once you have committed to a destination, it may be worthwhile to open a vacation savings account (confirm minimum balances and any fees you might incur before taking this step). Divide how much the trip will cost by how many months until departure and divert that amount into your savings fund on a regular basis. If the payment is more than you can afford, your options include:
– Paring down your vacation plans
– Cutting your budget in other areas
- Prepay. Paying some expenses in advance may decrease the cost of your trip. If you are flying, start by keeping an eye on flights until you find a good price. Consider purchasing tickets for attractions early (when possible). Many hotels may also offer a discounted prepay option. Keep in mind that prepayments are sometimes non-refundable, so make sure your plans are locked before handing over your money.
- Cut expenses. When your vacation draws near, look for ways to decrease expenses at home. For example: Focus on using up the food in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry prior to your departure.
- Plan ahead. Avoid waiting until the last minute to complete necessary pre-trip tasks, such as having your car serviced or buying new clothes. Work these into your budget a bit at a time to avoid incurring multiple extra expenses all at once.