Now that summer has come to a close, it’s time to start thinking about your vacation for next year. If you’re anything like me, you hope that your summer will include a dream vacation but you never get around to the actual planning. Make a change for next summer and start the planning (and saving) early. The value of a vacation extends far beyond the bottom line, though figuring out how much money you’ll need is an important step in the planning process. The hard work pales in comparison to the mind and body benefits you can experience with an epic vacation.
The following seven tips will show you the best ways to plan and save for your future gateway to your dream getaway. Start now so you can jet-set sooner rather than later.
Decide Where You Want to Go
Your dreams will shift and change as you do, so carefully consider where you want to go on your vacation. Your dream location will help you nail down the rest of the specifics regarding your trip, such as how long you’ll go, where you’ll stay and how you’ll get there. With this information in mind, you can start to shape your budget. Once you know the amount of money you’ll need, it’ll be easier to start saving it.
Save Before You Have the Chance to Spend
Thanks to technology, you can have money automatically put away for your next trip. Set up an automatic transfer post-paycheck deposit, for example, so a small portion of your payday goes directly into savings. This way, you’ll never see the money as part of your regular budget — and you won’t be tempted to spend it. All you’ll notice is the growing savings in your vacation account.
Find a Rewards Credit Card
While your cash is funneled into a savings account, you can also make better use of your credit line. There are many great travel rewards credit cards with benefits like free airfare, hotels and rental cars. Many offer a sign-up bonus with an immediate big reward. Open a new account pre-trip and you might be able to use your instant earnings toward your dream trip.
Keep an Eye on the Rest of Your Spending
Conscious spending is one of the best ways to save money. For example, if you’re writing down everything you purchase, you probably won’t admit to buying a $3 coffee every single morning — that’s $15 per work week, roughly $60 per month and $780 per year. Such an expense could easily be lessened by brewing your own to-go cup each morning.
Most people find that once they start recording their spending, it’s easy to see which habits need to be broken. With the money you save each month, you can save more toward your vacation.
Don’t Discredit a Change Jar
People who start coin jars are usually amazed at the end result. Your quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies add up — perhaps to hundreds of dollars once the jar is full. There are plenty of uses for a coin jar. One great way to incentivize the emptying of your pockets each night is to devote the cash to a future vacation.
Use Travel Discount Sites to Book
A roundabout way of saving is to cut costs from the get-go. Many websites exist to help you find travel deals on hotels, flights, rental cars and even the excursions you’ll go on while you’re away. If you book through a travel site, you’ll need fewer funds to make your dream a reality, which means you can end your saving spree sooner than planned.
Make More Money
It might sound easier said than done, but finding a second or side job can make a huge difference in the lives of dream vacationers. Consider picking up freelance gigs, starting a dog-watching or house-sitting business or selling clothing and other belongings you no longer use. You can pad your savings account further without taking away from your regular budget.
Your travel inspiration and savings inspiration are a powerful duo — they can take you across the world if you let them. Start making an effort to plan and save, and then reap the benefits in a few months when you’re taking off for the vacation of your lifetime.