Now that your budget has survived another holiday spending season—it’s time to set your sights on saving for brighter days ahead: Summer vacation! Here a few ways to prep your winter budget for summer vacation.
Define The Experience You Want
Being flexible about your travel plans can help you shave hundreds of dollars off the cost of a summer vacation, but price isn’t the only factor in a great vacation experience. Before you commit to any particular place or travel dates, define the “non-negotiable” aspects of your perfect vacation.
Do you want to relax at the beach or ocean, a spa and fine dining, or are you more interested in the availability of activities, and “guarantee” of a particular climate? How far are you willing to travel, and what kind of amenities do you expect in your choice of lodging?
When you take time to outline the aspect of your vacation that are “must-have” from those that would be nice but not necessary, you’ll have an easier time discerning value as you sort through all the promotional deals you’ll come across.
Budget In Detail
Once you’ve made your list of vacation priorities, determine what you can afford to spend, by tallying fixed and variable costs. In addition to the major expenses like lodging, airfare or fuel and maintenance if you’ll travel by car, estimate what you expect to pay for the daily costs of food and drinks, and any activities you plan to do.
Additionally, budget for the little costs that add up, like getting to and from the airport, baggage fees, taxes and fees associated with car rentals and some larger resorts, parking, and gratuities for meals, taxi drivers, housekeeping and bellhops.
Separate the categories into those that you may be able to with a little creativity and flexibility (like baggage fees, food, and cheaper lodging) from those that probably won’t change dramatically (like parking). When you can see the line-item costs your vacation presents, you’ll have a better idea of what locations are feasible, and how long you can afford to vacation.
Keep Vacation On Your Mind
Using your detailed budget, calculate the amount of money you need to make your vacation possible—in stages. For example, airfare will likely need to be booked (and paid for) well in advance of your trip, as well as lodging if you reserve a property that requires a down payment in advance.
Track your progress to reaching the various aspects you’ve budgeted for vacation, in addition to the sum total. Keeping your eye on the prize can also help you stay motivated to find savings in other areas of your life that you can put towards your vacation goal.
When you do save what you need to take that vacation, remember that though there’s nothing wrong with charging the cost of your vacation on rewards cards to snag extra points, pay the balance by the statement close date—not the due date—to ensure you don’t unintentionally exceed the desired 10% credit card debt to limit ratio. If you don’t know the statement close date (which is NOT the due date) you can easily find it out by looking at your account online or calling the credit card issuer’s customer service line and asking them.