We all need a little break from life every now and again.
Vacations are a good way to rejuvenate both mentally and physically. But when you are tight on money and doing everything you can to stay on track, a vacation might seem impossible.
As long as you have a battle plan, anything is possible. So start by making a plan to save for a vacation and then read below to learn how to get the most bang for your buck.
How to Vacation on a Budget
So, first I’d like to tell you a little bit of background about my family and myself. We have been overseas working for a defense contractor for over a year now. Vacationing and spending money is something that seems to come naturally to many of these seasoned contractors and a vast majority of the people we work around. Between seeing the country we live in, visiting close/neighboring countries, and going back to the US to see friends and family, we have had some amazing opportunities to take some low-cost but amazing family vacations.
But how do you take any type of vacation when you are trying to pay off debt and only have a set amount of money to spend? Don’t you need to have credit cards or a large amount in case you need it? No! Not if you make and stick to your battle plan. Follow the steps outlined below.
First and most importantly, come up with a spending plan (aka budget) for your vacation.
Vacationing and budget are not two words our mind wants to see in the same sentence because we have been conditioned to believe that a budget would take the fun out of a vacation. Rachel Cruze, a NY Times best selling author and daughter to Dave Ramsey, always says, “because my budget gave me permission.” This is how I look at budgeting for a vacation: we are giving ourselves permission to have fun.
Doing the budget is part of the planning phase for vacation. We do the budget just like we choose where we are going. Look at all of the options, then decide what is best for your family. You have to remember that even though vacations are spent away from home, that you can still be intentional with your money by having a plan and a budget.
Once you have your spending plan in place, next you need to decide where you can go based on that budget (woohoo the fun part!).
If you plan to save $1500 for a vacation, you probably won’t end up in Paris on a dream vacation, but that’s okay. You will make it there (or where ever it is you dream of going) one day. There are so many amazing places, even right here in the US, that you can take your family to and have an unforgettable vacation.
Check out some budget friendly destination ideas here.
Now that you know where you want to go, start researching transportation and lodging.
One thing that my family does that is the opposite of what most do is we give ourselves options on several locations and then look at the dates we want to go. This way, if there are restrictions on airfare or lodging in one location, we still stay on budget by just searching one of our alternate choices. Airfare and lodging almost always will make up the bulk of your vacation budget. By minimizing those costs, you not only save money, but you are able to put more of the vacation fund into the fun entertainment and activities.
Another thing you need to do is search, search, search. use many different airline sites and search engines. use things other than large hotel chains such as hostels or apartment sublets.
While traveling to Hong Kong recently, my family used AirBnB to book our lodging. We were located right at a subway stop, making travel around the city a breeze, and the price was much better than any hotel we would have used. Plus, the experience of staying in an actual apartment in the heart of Hong Kong was an experience my family would have never got to enjoy otherwise.
Lastly, plan out your activities.
Google or pull up some travel sites that tell you the best things to do or see while at your vacation destination. Make a list of 4-7 things you would like to do in order of preference. Then look up the costs of each and write them down next to that activity. Check off each one going down the list until your estimated spend reaches your budget amount for activities.
There you go: you have a fully planned vacation that you get to pay for in cash. More importantly, you have a plan that allows you to provide an unforgettable experience for you and your family. You’ve won the battle of the budget-friendly vacation in your fight for financial freedom!
Now go enjoy your vacation!
Charles Moore is a veteran, rocket doctor, financial coach, and blogger. If you’ve decided its time for you to suit up and fight for your financial freedom, check out his website at www.CAMFinancialCoach.com where you can get information on the coaching process, package options, and an unbeatable library of knowledge on winning financial battles.