It’s still winter. The temperature can struggle to climb above freezing, there are piles of snow everywhere, and your kids are crazy from being cooped up inside. Who wouldn’t dream of ditching the dreary day-to-day to go on an adventure? In just a few steps, you can make that summer vacation a reality!
Choose your destination
You may already have an idea of where you’d like to go: the beach, Disney World, or perhaps a hiking trip. My family tends to come up with several suggestions that we break up into the following categories: cheaper, middle-of-the-road, and “wow!” Cheaper could be a quick drive and few days’ hotel stay. Middle-of-the-road might be flying to Florida and staying in a rented house near the beach. “Wow” would be flying to Hawaii! Think of some options and then go to the internet to get a rough estimate of the cost of each trip. Is the “wow” trip doable right now, or should you table it and make it a goal for next year? Pick the trip that’s the right fit for your family right now.
You’ll want to spend a little more time finding out exactly what this trip will cost. How much will you need for flights (if applicable), hotel, food, activities, and souvenirs? Plan a trip budget and then decide how much you will need to save every month in order to pay for it in full. You may even want to open a new checking account as your vacation fund. You can make a monthly contribution to that account and watch it grow!
Start spending less
This may go without saying, but as you are saving more money for your vacation, you’ll need to spend a little less! Skip the coffee shop every morning, avoid impulse online purchases, and cut back on eating dinner out. The vacation is your ultimate reward, and it will be worth it! The goal is to relax, have fun, and be with your family on vacation without stressing about the money. Keep your eyes on the prize.
Friends of mine get free flights and hotel stays by using their credit card rewards. Here’s where it can get tricky, because you don’t want to rack up debt just to get a flight for free. My friend simply uses his credit card for basic purchases throughout the month, pays it off right away, and enjoys the rewards! Chase, American Express, and Capital One are just a few of the banks offering travel rewards credit cards.
Search for travel tips
Whenever I’m going somewhere new, I head to Pinterest or Google and perform a search. I love seeing trip itineraries, restaurant recommendations, and ideas on how to save money in a specific city. There’s a wealth of knowledge out there from people who have visited before you, so take their advice! My husband and I were able to save a lot of money when we visited Hawaii last year thanks to a blogger’s suggestion on how to eat your way through Maui on the cheap!
Summer vacations are supposed to be fun, not stressful! With some pre-planning and thoughtful spending ahead of time, the only things you’ll be bringing back from your tip are memories, photos, and souvenirs - not debt!