Summer is right around the corner! Now is the time to start thinking about taking a well needed vacation. In a perfect world we could close our eyes and pick a spot on the map to travel to. No matter what your financial status is, it’s always best to plan. I found it helpful to create multiple list when planning a vacation. Here are a few tips I’ve used over the years to prepare me for a getaway.
Plan Your Trip: Consider where you want to travel to and how long you want to stay. In most cases spur of the moment trips are going to be more expensive than strategically planned ones. Once you know where you’re going and for how long, it’s time to review figures. Calculate the cost of your stay. Depending on your destination using a travel agency can save you money and give you additional incentives. Determine the cost of travel, if you’re driving or flying. Do your research to explore all your options. There are many websites you can take advantage of to compare lodging and travel prices.
Splurge on Priorities and Save in advance: Create a trip budget that covers lodging, travel, and miscellaneous items you may need for your trip. This will give you a good start on how much you need to save. Try to pay extra on your priority expenses. It’s also a good idea to pay down at least one of your major credit cards. This will allow more funds and give you a piece of mind while on vacation. Now is a good time to create a travel fund for gas money, food, and/or possible air fare. Any expenses that are not a priority can be sacrificed and applied to your travel fund.
Bring Your Own Everything and The Unexpected: My family and I usually drive to our destination. To save even more money we pack food for the drive and stay in a hotel that has a kitchen. This will allow us to buy groceries and cook instead of eating out as much. We take a trip to the beach just about every year. The biggest mistake I made on the first few trips was purchasing clothes for the trip. After a few times I realized the new clothes are not needed if I plan to be in a swim suit most of the time. We all know that life happens and for me it never fails every year something unexpected comes up whether it’s a delayed check in, car trouble, or a personal item I forgot to pack. It’s best to add a little cushion to your trip fund. A good rule of thumb is to have at least enough funds to make it an extra day, just in case of an emergency.
The Lists: As I mentioned before make a to-do list of what items you need to bring, and what needs to be taken care of before you go. My “what to bring,” list consists of clothing, electronics, emergency contacts, food, identification, and funds (cash and/or credit cards). The “before I go,” list consists of turning off any electrical items that won’t be needed. Cleaning out the refrigerator and taking out the trash. As a safety precaution, you may consider letting someone know you will be out of town and leave a few lights on in your home. The same list you created about what to bring keep it with you, that way when you’re headed home you won’t leave any items behind.
Bottom line traveling is expensive! Let’s not forget the activities and sightseeing you want to experience. Therefore, it’s important to plan and create a budget. Remember to do your research for the best deals and coupons. These are just a few tips I found helpful when planning a vacation. Safe travels!