5 Ways to Make Sure You Can Afford Your Next Vacation

A vacation can be a great way to relax, reload, and spend time traveling or catching up on hobbies you enjoy and can’t often partake in, such as reading. Vacations can get expensive, though, so planning ahead can help. There are many ways you can save for your vacation, regardless of where you plan to go.

However, some of your savings goals will depend on how far away and for how long you plan to travel. There are many ways you can save for a vacation, and you may already have a plan that works for you. A vacation budget sheet can help get you started and keep you on track. Planning in advance so that you know when you want to go can help you score early deals, but being open to last-minute travel can also help. There are also a number of options you can consider in addition to hotels that will save you money. Here are just five ways to get started.

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1. Plan in advance

According to the U.S. Travel Association, 96 percent of workers surveyed recognized the significance of taking paid time off, but four in 10 workers are leaving their paid time off days unused. Many workers avoid taking vacations because they don’t feel encouraged to do so or feel overwhelmed at work. Planning your vacation time in advance gives you more time to save, but it also gives your boss and coworkers more time to prepare for your absence. Ask ahead of time so that you can go during a less busy season at work — your boss will appreciate it.

Once you have the time planned ahead, start looking for deals. Many hotels and resorts offer deals if you plan ahead, and you can often save by booking nonrefundable rooms far in advance.

2. Get your savings in order

If you want to go on a vacation, you will need to save for it. If you know in advance that you are not traveling for a while, it can be easy to think you have plenty of time to save. However, you are better off starting now, as unexpected expenses can always arise later. First, open a savings account just for your vacation: That way, you won’t be tempted to use your savings for other items or expenses.

Second, if possible, contribute to your savings weekly or biweekly instead of monthly — that way, you will have to pay careful attention to your budget. Setting up automatic deductions is best, but you can also find other small ways to save, like putting a coin jar on your counter. Instead of throwing your loose change into your pockets or car, place it your change jar and add it to your vacation savings when it fills up.

3. Bring or make your own food

Going to restaurants is often a big part of a vacation, but it doesn’t have to be. If your hotel room has a kitchen, you can make your own food to save a significant amount during your vacation. You can make a budget before you go on your trip and then plan to have one night out at the end of your trip. Cook the rest of your meals yourself in your hotel.

Or, if cooking isn’t possible, at least keep snacks and healthy fruits and vegetables that don’t need to be refrigerated around (think tomatoes, potatoes, apples, melons, and bananas). Even if you can’t cook everything, you will at least save on snack food. If you are driving somewhere and can bring a cooler, you can go to your prefered grocery store and bring food from home.

4. Rethink your accommodations

Many people are now considering staycations in order to save money. Taking a staycation is a great way to have time off from work to do the things you enjoy without spending the extra money associated with travel. However, if you really want to go somewhere, you can still save money on your accommodations by thinking outside the box. Camping is a fun way to stay cheaply, and campsites are available in most places. You can also book a vacation rental with HomeAway. Bed and breakfasts are another option that is often more affordable than a traditional hotel. Hostels are also a lesser-known option that will save you a lot of money.

5. Look at last-minute deals

While planning ahead will often save you money, sometimes, last-minute deals will save you even more. While it’s a good idea to plan when you are going to take your vacation, if you can wait until the last minute to decide where to go, you may save big. Apple Vacations offers several last-minute deals, as do many other popular travel sites, like Expedia and Kayak. Being open to determining your travel destination at the last minute will usually save you a lot on resort packages or hotels and sometimes, on flights. You just have to decide if you are comfortable waiting until the last minute, as you may not get your ideal location if you do wait, but the money savings and the fun of the last-minute escape can be worth it.

If you are looking for other ways to save for your vacation, consider cutting back on your extras for a few months. Stop going out to eat, avoid expensive concerts and events, and save in any other way you possibly can. Take all the money you would be spending on other items and put it toward your vacation instead.

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