You have the best of intentions, and the simplest – to get away from it all. Now that the weather has turned cold, your thoughts may be leaning towards a warm beach, or even a family reunion for the holidays. But how do you make that happen when the vacation fund always seems to disappear on practical and decidedly un-fun expenses like a new mattress, tax re-assessment or engine repairs?
It’s simple: Just like saving for retirement or any other long-term goal, you might have to ‘pay yourself first’ to ensure that travel maintains priority status in the face of all the other expenses that constantly crop up. Depending on your family situation, some or all of these vacation savings hacks may work for you – have a read through and let me know in the comments what you have tried!?
Before you start saving for your next vacation
Before you even start, know that it’s not essential to know where you’re going. Yes, if your goal is to eat and drink your way through Italy for several months, you will definitely need to plan in a different way than for a quick jaunt to Vegas or an all-inclusive in Cuba. But really, money never goes bad. If you’re undecided as to your destination, work with expenses (like the best hard shell carry on luggage that money can buy) and timeline instead: how much can you set aside for a vacay, that you know you’ll never need to dip into? Start saving that, and let circumstances (such as the irresistible urge to dip your toes into fine white sand, or your son’s new fixation with the rainforest) dictate your ultimate destination.
7 cool ways to find the money for an unforgettable trip
- Side job. Before you shudder in horror, think about how today’s gig economy has forever changed the world of freelancing. Can you drive? Consider doing a few hours of Uber-ing each week, or hire yourself out as a private delivery/courier service. Can you write or do graphic design? Join a service like UpWork and start making cash for your skills. Crafty type? Sell your wares on Etsy. All these options allow you more freedom and control over your schedule than traditional part-time jobs.
- Separate bank account. Open a no-fee online account somewhere like Tangerine or PC Financial and start an automated savings plan that socks away your money and doesn’t allow you immediate access to it.
- Penalty jar. Perfect for families with potty-mouthed children or change-driven adults – simply put money in the jar whenever you indulge in that inappropriate language/cigarette/temper tantrum. The whole family can decorate the travel jar as a group activity. You’ll be surprised how much you will save and, as a side benefit, everyone’s behaviour should improve, necessitating a huge reward, like…a trip!
- Cook at home 6 days a week. While there are tons of online resources to help you maximize your grocery budget, the truth is that for most families who can afford travel at all, one of the biggest budget busters will be eating out and takeout. Cooking at home is not only healthier, it’s quite simply cheaper than prepared foods…always.
- Airline miles. There are many ways to max these out, including: using only credit cards that offer miles, transferring other balances to these cards, completing surveys online to earn bonus miles, loading offers…it can really add up.
- Sell stuff on Facebook. You know those groups you can’t stop compulsively browsing through? Post your stuff up there and cause other people to miss work as they look at (and eventually buy) all the things you don’t need anymore.
- Group Deal Sites. Ok, so this is technically a cheap trip hack, but it can provide motivation to save for an otherwise-unattainable trip! Sites like Groupon and Living Social have tons of package vacations at discount prices; you might have to drive to a US airport and fly from there, so be careful to factor in those expenses, or purchase hotel-only deals and look for discounted air fares online. In addition, you can often purchase additional Groupons for discounted attractions and amenities near your destination.
If all else fails, there’s always a credit card, right? But saving to pay off most or all of your vacation in cash will make you feel even better about seeing the world.
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