5 tips to save for your next vacation

For many hardworking Americans, planning a vacation is an important milestone to look forward to throughout the year. Taking advantage of time away can be a great way to relax, recharge, and spend some quality time with family and friends.

However, if not planned carefully, getting out of town may turn into a costly expenditure rather than a restorative break. These tips can help you plan a vacation to remember while also keeping your finances in check.

Make saving a priority

  • Before you begin the planning process, decide how much you're willing to spend on your vacation.
  • Once you decide on a target amount, you may want to set up a separate dedicated account for vacation savings and begin making weekly contributions toward this goal.
  • One strategy for saving additional vacation funds is to cut back on spending for at least 90 days in advance of your trip. Consider spending less on entertainment and eating out.

Set a clear budget and stick to it

  • Before you book your next excursion, take a look at your finances and make sure this expenditure fits with your financial big picture. Can you afford to take a vacation and still remain on track for longer term goals?
  • Explore options such as rewards points or loyalty programs. These may offset the costs associated with the trip and help you stick to your budget.

Get thrifty with planning

  • Do some research on cost comparisons prior to booking your trip. A strategic approach to planning flights and lodging may help you save money and keep costs low.
  • For example, a mid-week flight may be cheaper than one on a weekend, and alternate accomodations such as an Airbnb may be more affordable than a hotel room.
  • Vacation rentals and hotels outside of city centers are often more affordable than those in the heart of the city. As an added bonus, you may get a better glimpse of local culture.

Pack with a purpose

  • Buying forgotten items at your destination can add up fast. When packing your suitcase, make a list of everything you'll need and check it twice.
  • Be sure you know which amenities will be included with the price of your accomodations. That way, you won't be surprised by unexpected expenses such as paying for WiFi or a non-included breakfast.

Consider a staycation

  • If you have concerns about fitting a vacation into your budget, consider planning a "staycation" in your own city.
  • Being a tourist in your own city can be just as fun as traveling and far more economical. Plan ahead by making a list of activities or attractions to visit. Local newspapers and travel sites can also be a good resource for finding local events.

Traveling with loved ones can create memories you'll cherish for a lifetime. Planning in advance for the financial side of your trip can help you make the most of this special time while staying on track for your long-term goals.