Budgeting for a Stress-Free Vacation

Before any vacation, you’ll want to take steps to make sure you’re financially prepared for the fun ahead.

First, establish a budget for the trip. Determine a realistic amount of money you’ll need to save for lodging, transportation, food and activities while on your trip. If you have pets and you’re leaving them at home, you may also need to pay for boarding or a pet sitter.

Once you know how much the trip will cost, try taking the following actions to make sure you’ll have enough cash while on vacation:

Set aside a specific dollar amount from each paycheck before your trip. Think of it as another bill you have to pay and take it out of your spending immediately. You can also save a certain amount each week or month. An easy way to save is by setting up automated payments for your checking or savings account. You can also try saving the amount equivalent to the week of the year it is, so $12 on the 12th week of the year, $13 on the 13th week, etc.

In addition to saving money from each paycheck, keep a change jar. (My husband and I paid for our car rental on our wedding trip in 2014 with change we put in a jar. If you pay for anything with cash, put some or all of your change into a jar and don’t touch it. It will add up over time. We counted our money at the end of several months and had about $300!)

Divide your spending. To make sure you don’t blow all your spending money before your next paycheck, divide the amount of cash you have by the number of days to give yourself a “daily allowance.” Strive to spend less than your daily allowance amount. If you have cash left over, add it in your vacation fund.

Earn rewards. Look into getting a credit card that offers a cash rewards program for purchases, and pay off your balance each month. You might be able to cash out the rewards regularly and transfer any money to the vacation budget.

Other Ways to Save on Travel:

Sign up for airfare or travel price alerts. You can get great deals and research the best time to fly or travel.

Look into all types of lodging possibilities to find the best deal. Sometimes a vacation rental can be cheaper than hotels and resorts. And sometimes you can even camp at your location.

Go through your belongings, identify what you no longer want or need, and sell it online. You can also host a yard sale to earn some extra travel cash.

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