Are you dreaming of a relaxing beach vacation or hiking through the Rocky Mountains this summer? Are you trying to decide how you are possibly going to afford the vacation you’re spending these winter months dreaming about? By following these tips you might just be able to make those vacation dreams come true without breaking the bank.
Tips to Getting A Jump Start Now on Planning Your Summer Vacation
As the temperatures continue to drop, I can’t help but start dreaming of where we will spend our summer vacation this summer. Last summer, my husband and I spent a week on the beaches in Jamaica, and while I would love to go back, this summer we are planning to do a short driving vacation because we are starting to save for a Disneyland Trip we hope to take in a few years.
So whether you’re planning to take your family to the beaches of Florida, the mountains of Colorado, or just a weekend trip some place close to your home, here are a few things that may help save you a few bucks as summer approaches
Start setting aside a little money each week
- I recommend having your bank automatically deduct a set amount each pay period from your checking account and put into an account just for vacation expenses. This way you probably won’t really miss the money, and when it’s time for you to go on vacation, you’ll have the money to pay for your week on the beach!
Start searching for deals now
- Check out some of the well-known sites like Expedia, Travelocity, and Priceline to see what kind of deals are out there now for hotels, flights, and car rentals. I’ve also had good luck in the past booking trips directly with companies. You can also set up alerts on these sites to receive emails when prices drop to within your budget. By getting an idea now of how much that dream vacation might cost, you can start planning ahead now for how much it’s going to cost.
Know when to travel and when to buy
- If you are planning on looking for a flight deal to get to your destination, have flexible dates you can travel, play around with those dates to see what gets you the best deal. According to farecompare.com, the best day to travel is Wednesdays, followed by Tuesdays and Saturdays. Farecompare.com also says the best time to buy airline tickets is on a Tuesday afternoon around 3pm.
Buy Gas Cards Now
If you’re planning a fun filled driving vacation with your family this summer, the cost of gas is probably figuring heavily into your vacation budget. Since we won’t have an exact amount of what gas is going to cost by the summer months, I recommend figuring a little extra into your gas budget. One thing we did two summers ago was buy a $25 gas card about every other time we filled our van with gas during the months leading up to our vacation. We also saved up our miles on our credit card and cashed them in for gas cards. By doing this, the $500 we’d budgeted for gas, didn’t really feel like we were spending a fortune on gas when it came time to travel.
Check out where you’re traveling
- Before you book your trip, do some research online for the area where you’re planning to travel. If available, sign up to receive their emails or request brochures with additional information about the area.
- Do your research on places you plan to visit to find coupons and discounts on admission, souvenirs, etc. Sometimes buying your admission tickets online can save you some money as well.
If you’re planning a driving vacation, shop ahead for snacks, drinks, and easy meals if you can. The cost of food can quickly add up if you’re buying drinks and snacks every time you fill up your gas tank, or if you stop to eat at a restaurant every time someone is hungry. We saved a lot of money a few years ago when we traveled to North Carolina by bringing a lot of our groceries with us. We had picnic lunches along the way and cooked a lot of our meals when we got to the beach.
If your travel plans include flying, I still recommend buying ahead snacks. Buying food in airports or while on the airplane are ways to quickly add to the cost of your vacation. The one thing I wouldn’t stock up on before going to the airport are drinks. You won’t be allowed to take them past security. I would check out your specific airlines’ policies before bringing too much along with you.
One Creative Great Idea
A recent article I read on one of my favorite new blogs, “Couponing to Disney,” the author talked about how they saved $3739.48 towards their Disney vacation for this year. Check out her most recent post Our 2012 Disney Fund for even more creative ways to save for vacation (not just for Disney!).
Before you completely rule out a summer vacation, whether it’s a trip to the beach, or a trip to your family’s cabin in Wisconsin, do some research and planning ahead so you’re not breaking the bank come summer months.