The stress of your everyday life can be overwhelming sometimes. You have bills to pay, unfinished work assignments, a family to take care, and plenty of other things on your plate to worry about. While there’s no magic button you can press to wipe away all of your stress, a well-earned vacation may be just what you need to unwind. It can help to bolster your relationships with friends and family, increase your productivity, boost your physical and mental health, and reduce your overall stress levels.
And while Americans haven’t been vacationing as often as they could – there were 705 million unused vacation days in 2017, according to the U.S. Travel Association – these numbers are slowly rising, with the number of vacation days Americans take on average creeping up from 16.8 in 2016 to 17.2 in 2017.
These numbers may show that Americans are placing more of an emphasis on vacation time to help relieve stress and promote a happy and healthy life. But this doesn’t mean that the process of planning a vacation doesn’t come without a little stress. One area that comes to mind is the cost. If you want to keep your vacation as stress-free as possible, you’ll likely need to know how to budget for a vacation. For example, if you want to hit the open road and take a road trip, you’ll need to know how to put together an effective road trip budget.
In general, understanding how to budget for a vacation and putting together a smart travel budget can have a big impact on the success of your vacation. Here are six tips to help you with this process.
From the mid-1970s to 2000, Americans seemingly understood the value in taking some time off work for some much-needed relaxation. During this period, the average employed American took off 20 paid vacation days a year. But as we transitioned into the new millennium, the number of used vacation days began to drop. This number has finally started to rise with the 17.2 average days of vacation taken by Americans in 2017 being the highest level in seven years.
If the aim of your vacation is to decrease stress and give you a period of relief from your hectic life, then you’ll need to make sure you plan your vacation properly. There’s more to it than just deciding how many days you’re going to take off at work. You’ll have research budget travel tips to keep costs low, make a travel budget – or learn how to create a family vacation budget if you’re going on a family trip – and do your best to plan a successful vacation. Winding up short on funds could lead you into a whole other realm of stress, defeating the purpose of your getaway in the first place! So, let’s take a closer look at how to budget for a vacation.
You might think that the first step to planning your vacation is to pull out your globe and pick your destination. But the truth is, most of us can’t necessarily afford to go wherever we’d like, so to pick a realistic option, you’ll need to start by figuring out what your maximum budget is.
If you’re looking for a place to start, narrow down your list by throwing out locations you know you won’t be able to afford. This will be an easy way to start knocking off some of the more expensive dream destinations that might be out of your reach.
However, if you really have your heart set on a location that’s a little out of your price range, start to find some other ways to cut back on travel costs. Look for deals in the area that can match your budget. For example, you could look for accommodations that are cheaper than a typical hotel, like a large hostel dorm. To cut back on the cost of food, buy groceries instead of eating out and cook at your residence. If you need want to travel around the country, book your train tickets far in advance and keep your eyes open for deals and discounts. These are just a few of the things you can do when you’re budgeting for a vacation.
When it comes to saving money for your vacation, it’s a good idea to start this process as far in advance as possible. Use your budget calendar to incorporate your vacation savings into your total budget. Based on the amount you’re able to put aside every month for your vacation, you can determine your maximum budget by taking this number and multiplying it by the number of months you have between the time you start saving and your vacation. Whatever this number ends up being, the key is to stick to your budget on vacation.
Now that you know how much to budget for vacation, it’s time to pick your destination. To help you through this process, you can use sites like BootsNAll, or do a search Google search for “best vacations under (insert your budget)”.
One thing you’ll want to stay away from is picking your destination solely because you happened to stumble onto a good deal on plane tickets on a cheap airfare site. While your tickets might be cheaper than normal, buying them on a whim can take out all of the necessary planning that goes in when you’re evaluating that destination. Maybe you’ve found cheap airfare, but what if you can only find accommodations in that destination that are way out of your price range? Knowing how to budget for a vacation means doing the proper research on all the important expenses of your trip.
Once you’ve picked your destination, you’ll need to start figuring out the cost of your large travel expenses. This can include things like accommodations, food, and transportation. The average cost of a vacation can vary widely, so you’ll need to consider a lot of different factors when planning for your expenses.
If you want to look through some travel packages and get an idea of what certain things may cost, look through Travelocity or Costco Travel. By shopping around and exploring different prices on these websites, you can get an idea about you want to do on your vacation, how much you want to spend on flights, and what the cost of a hotel and transportation would be.
If you want to have access to a kitchen and a bit more space, you might want to look for accommodations other than hotels. For a more comfortable stay in a bigger space, you can look at websites like HomeAway or Airbnb. You may have to pay a little more, but you also might wind up saving money if you’re making your own meals and eating out less. Some hostels will even have a kitchen available for you to cook in if you’re really trying to save on accommodations and food.
Once you’ve sorted through these bigger ticket items, you’ll need to assess some of the smaller expenses that’ll pop up over the course of your trip. This can include things like:
You’ll need to be reasonable about what things will actually cost when you’re making your list. It’s better for you to over-plan than to be underprepared, so it might help to overestimate expenses so that you make sure you have what you need before you go on your trip. If you wind up with extra cash in hand down the line, you might even be able to grab an extra souvenir for your children or an extra night out on the town.
Understanding how to budget for a vacation doesn’t just involve planning for the usual travel expenses. You’ll also need to set aside some extra money for miscellaneous or unexpected expenses that can happen during a vacation. If you do end up facing an unexpected emergency expense that you haven’t set enough money aside for, you may want to consider payday loans online to provide you with a financial stopgap until your next payday.
To help you with the process of calculating your expenses, there are plenty of online tools that can help you figure out your vacation budget. For example, this Vacation Budget spreadsheet can help you when you’re inputting your expenses, and will give you a clear idea of where you’re allocating all of your funds. Once you’ve put in all your expenses, you’ll have a concise version of your overall budget to help you keep track of all your travel expenses.
The last thing to keep in mind is that while you’re on vacation, some of your usual monthly expenses won’t need to be accounted for. For example, if you spend $200 a week on groceries and plan to be on vacation for a week, you can count that $200 towards your vacation spending. Also, if part of your monthly budget is set aside for entertainment, you could use some of that entertainment budget towards a vacation, too. You can subtract these crossover amounts from your vacation savings total, which would give you the actual amount you would need to save for a vacation.
We could all use a vacation from time to time, but when money is tight, the prospect of some much-needed rest and relaxation might seem a little out of reach. But the truth is, it’s possible to enjoy a vacation while being financially responsible at the same time.
Understanding how to budget for a vacation may take some time, and you’ll have to become very familiar with the process of budgeting and tracking your expenses. You’ll need to plan for large and small expenses, and even try to keep some financial flexibility in case you run into an unexpected emergency expense on your vacation. And just remember, if you do run into an emergency expense you can’t cover, you can apply for payday loans to help cover you until you get your next paycheck.
It may sound like a lot of work and planning, but it’s better to be prepared for all of these expenses instead of coming back from your vacation with a few thousand dollars of debt hanging over your head from poor planning.
If you want to learn more about how to budget for a vacation and keep a concise road trip budget, take a look at this guide to help you out!