Over the next few days, I’ll be posting some vacation planning tips for you. I hope they are helpful in getting your family some R&R that doesn’t break the bank this summer!
The first step in planning a vacation is taking a look at your finances. If you are significantly in debt, this might be a good year to go without a vacation out of town and focus on saving the money to work towards your debt snowball. Don’t fear, a vacation can still be had, but you might opt for a “staycation” instead. More on that soon.
Good questions to ask yourself as you get started on planning the vacation:
- Can we afford to take a vacation right now?
- How much can we spend? What is our budget?
- What will the budgeted money include? Don’t be caught off guard by expenses you didn’t plan for, such as higher prices at the pumps in summer months. Consider cost of hotels, travel in car or air, food per day and don’t forget things like drinks and snacks, any clothing that you’ll need before the trip, souvenirs, attraction expenses, and an extra category for emergencies. Also factor in that the cost of things like food, gifts, sunscreen and gasoline is higher at vacation spots.
- Where can we go, given the budget? If we have a budget of $500, that is only going to pay for a couple of nights in a hotel, an attraction or two and gas, but it won’t pay for a month long trip across Europe. Be realistic with your budget.
- How can we save money now for a future vacation? If you have $500 to spend but would really like to go with the family to Hawaii, you might sit down as a family unit and plan for the future. If you set aside that $500 and then another hundred or so each month for the next year, you can have a really fantastic vacation. Sometimes the best lesson is in delayed gratification.