6 Tips to Help You Save for a Dream Vacation
Traveling can seem like an expensive habit solely enjoyed by the wealthy, but it's possible for anyone to become a globe trotter with a little bit of discipline. You don't have to break the bank to take the trip of a lifetime, and the following tips will help you board a plane free of stress.
Make Yourself a Travel Jar
After making yourself aware of your daily expenses, find a good place to keep your travel savings. This could be a regular savings account, but if you need to, take it out and place it in a jar where you can't see it so you remove the temptation to spend it. Then every time you get paid, set aside as much money as you can.
One Round Trip, Por Favor
Before booking your flight, make sure you're getting the best deal. One of the easiest ways to do this is by booking well in advance of your trip. This ensures that you get a good deal and that you're able to save more money before other travel expenses arise. Do your fare shopping in the first half of the week. "Monday night is when the major airlines announce sales," says Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare. "This triggers airlines to try to match those sales on Tuesday."
Don't get too hung up on any one date unless there's an important event you want to attend. Google Flights and other airfare search engines will offer cheaper deals on certain days. Being flexible with arrival and departure airports is also a great way to save some extra cash. If you're flying into or out of a major city with multiple airports, check the prices for all of them — not just the ones that are most convenient.
Identify the Other Big Expenses
Once the flight is booked, consider your other big-ticket items — lodging and transportation. If you're less interested in eating out, find an apartment or hostel with a kitchen and buy your own groceries. If you want a hotel, figure out how much time you'll be spending there and choose amenities accordingly. Do you really need a pool if you're out sightseeing all day? Are you willing to explore local restaurants, or would you rather go with an all-inclusive resort? If you don't have a car, how much will cab fares and public transportation cost? Once you know all this, you can set a second goal for your savings.
Plan Some Activities
Some parts of your trip will be spontaneous, but others are easy to plan for. If you're going to Bilbao, for example, you can look up admission prices for the Guggenheim Museum in advance. Find out what you want to see, and get tickets ahead of time if you can — some attractions offer discounts for online and advance purchases.
Wait Till the Time Is Right
This is the hardest one: Try not to go on your vacation until you can pay for the trip and then some. The trip won't be relaxing if you're stressed about money while you're on it, or worried about paying for groceries when you get back. Make sure you have a little extra left over to pay for surprise excursions or any emergencies that might happen.