Sometimes you just need to get away for a while. If you're feeling drained, stressed out or overworked, a well-deserved vacation might be the best way to reboot both mentally and physically.
Perhaps you've even been planning a family getaway for years, but you just can't find the money you need to make it happen. With an average cost of about $150 per person per night for domestic trips and $250 per person for international getaways, fitting your dream vacation into your budget can be a tall order. That doesn't mean it can't be done, however. With a bit of careful planning and creativity, you can escape the daily grind and embark on that adventure you've always wanted - maybe even sooner than you think.
Use These Tips To Budget Your Dream Vacation
Form a Plan
It may seem obvious, but it's much easier to save for a vacation when you know how much money you'll actually need. That's why your first step should be planning out your vacation in detail. Choose a destination and get to work on crunching the numbers, including approximate travel costs, accommodations, extra money for activities and any other funds you expect to need. While you may not be able to pin down an exact dollar figure, it helps to be as specific as possible so that you have a realistic target to work toward. It'll also help you avoid any unpleasant surprises down the road.
Pick Apart Your Budget
You should already have a working budget in place, but if you don't, now is the time to create one. Calculate your monthly income and note any existing savings you intend to use toward your vacation. Next, examine all of your monthly expenses. You may not be able to cut out things like a mortgage or car insurance, but you may be surprised to find how many optional expenses can be eliminated if you're willing to make some sacrifices. Whether it's canceling reservations at an upscale restaurant in favor of a good home-cooked meal or watching a DVD rather than heading to the cinema, there are likely many opportunities within your budget to create some savings. The more money you can free up in your monthly budget, the better your vacation can ultimately be.
Find Extra Funds
Cutting unnecessary expenses is a great way to save, but it's only half of the equation. Boosting your income can get you even closer to your goal, and your ability to bring in extra cash is limited only by your creativity. Seeking out opportunities for overtime or taking on added responsibility in the workplace is a natural place to start, but don't overlook the value you may have laying around the house. Unused valuables can bring in some quick cash, and you may even be able to add to your savings by selling unwanted items online or through a yard sale. Another often-overlooked way to save is by putting out a change jar in a highly visible and accessible location in your home. A few dimes and quarters and the odd dollar bill may not seem like much, but it can really add up over time.
Consider a Credit Card
While it's always preferable to save all the money you'll need for your trip up-front, using a credit card to cover some daily expenses during your travel is also a viable option. Be sure to research any foreign transaction fees that may apply and check that your card will be accepted wherever you plan to travel. It's also worth considering a dedicated travel credit card, which may net you big reward points for activities such as signing up, shopping at designated retailers or staying at certain hotels. In fact, with enough advance planning, you may even be able to earn enough points to cover your airfare or accommodations. However, it's also important to be mindful of when your reward points expire as well as when and how they can be redeemed.
Go Bargain Hunting
You may have a set cost figured out for your vacation, but that doesn't mean you can't seek out ways to do things below your budget. Once you're ready to set your vacation in motion, begin looking for ways to cut costs without sacrificing the experience you want. Use several comparison sites to compare travel costs and find the most competitive rates, and consider scheduling your vacation during an off-peak time of year to take advantage of lower prices. If you're willing to be flexible, many travel companies and airlines offer email alerts for flash deals that can hook you up with deep discounts.
Everyone needs a getaway occasionally, but it sometimes seems entirely out of reach. Whether your ideal trip is across the country or around the world, the key is to never become discouraged. It may take some hard work and sacrifice, but by implementing the tips above and working toward your goal every day, you can find a way to make your dream vacation a reality.
Beth Kotz is a contributing writer for Credit.com. A graduate of DePaul University in Chicago, she has also been featured as a writer and editor for numerous tech, energy and home blogs.