Family vacations are a great way to relax and experience the world together. The only problem? The typical vacation price tag can be eye-popping. The good news is, with careful vacation budget planning, you'll not only save money but according to Duke University, you'll also reduce your stress levels. Here are the best ways to get started.
A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed approximately 40 percent of the average domestic trip budget is spent on transportation. If your destination is more than a day's drive, compare the travel costs between all available options. Evaluating costs is an important step in the forecasting process. If you're driving, know your route, project your fuel costs and plan which gas stations you'll visit to save the most money.
If your planned vacation doesn't involve camping, search for hotel rate specials or loyalty card discounts listed online. Don't be afraid to ask about discounts over the phone, either. Consider amenities like a free breakfast, complimentary shuttle service, in-room refrigerator, leisure activities, board games and microwave accessibility to further stretch your dollar. Off-peak season savings may be available, too. In other words, it never hurts to ask for more.
Meals are another cost factor during your vacation. Know ahead of time which meals will be eaten out and locate restaurants that fit into your budget. Stop by a local grocery store for healthy meals on the go.
Pack coolers and insulated lunch sacks. If you're driving, you have more flexibility, but even if you're flying, pack insulated lunch sacks with you. This gives you the freedom to take food with you from your hotel room on daily outings. This is where the hotel refrigerator and microwave come in handy.
Look for promotional specials and membership card deals that you may qualify for. Some entry fees are also reduced on weekdays and off-peak seasons. Scour websites for the attractions you plan to visit. Buying tickets online in advance often saves both time and money, a vacation win-win.
Now that you have an idea of how much your vacation will cost, determine how you'll save for it. Add up all anticipated expenses for the adventure, project the departure date and backwards-plan how much cash to set aside each week to make it happen. Saving incrementally over time ensures you won't come up short or blow the budget.
If your travel date is flexible, schedule it far enough in the future that the amount you need to set aside for the vacation budget doesn't stretch you too thin.
Bring It All Together
Open a separate savings account specifically for your vacation fund to help you keep those funds reserved for the designated purpose. Stop by Coosa Valley Credit Union to find out which savings account option best meets your vacation budget needs. When the time comes for you to sink your toes in the sand, you'll be financially prepared and able to enjoy every minute of it.