Summer’s Coming, Can You Afford a Vacation? Top 5 Ways to Make Sure You Have Enough for a Vacation

Everyone needs a vacation and I encourage people to take vacations. I also encourage people to really think about what the vacation will cost. It’s great if you’re a Cheapoair or BudgetTravel user, but the reality is that flights cost a lot and so do hotels, no matter what site you use. If you’re not visiting a relative, a vacation for 4 will cost what can only be construed as a bundle.

We all know the types who go on vacation and do not relax because they are too busy worrying about every meal and outing and worried about how much they are spending. Yes, they ruin it for everyone.

We also know the one in the family who NEVER thinks about what they are spending and only wants to eat that most expensive place AND bring the family. No, your 3 year old probably will not appreciate the truffled mac n’ cheese. Seriously, I’ve seen this before. They ruin it for everyone, too, because deep down the other partner knows they are overspending and it can cause anxiety.

Here are my top 5 ways to avoid the inevitable financial fights over vacations:

  1. Discuss it months before – First, agree on an overall amount. Agree on special outings and make sure you have childcare if you want a date night so you can go to a really fancy place and not waste those dollars on kids meals at haute cuisine restaurants. Agree, yes, AGREE, how much you can save for the trip all in: flights, hotels, entertainment, meals, before you even get on Orbitz. Nobody likes financial surprises.
  2. Plan ahead – it’s fun to think about your upcoming vacation anyway. Book flights, rental cars and hotels at least a few months in advance so you get better deals. Everyone else books in the spring, try to book in the winter. You will get better prices.
  3. Save ahead – start saving for your next vacation when you come home from your last vacation. Generally, one week for 4 people anywhere but grandma’s house will be $5-10k. You know that and I know that, so start saving now -$600-$800/month for 12 months should cover you. No excuses. If you want it, work for it.
  4. Be realistic – Be realistic about what you will spend while you’re away AND include it in your savings plan (see #2). Once you’re there, only spend what you’ve already planned to spend. If there are 4 of you, assume you will spend $2,000-$3,000 on stuff over one week. Meals, entertainment, cabs, tickets, etc.
  5. Let Go – once you’ve saved and bought the tickets, enjoy yourself! You’ve saved a reasonable amount for the trip. Do not fret over every meal. You only have to discuss it if someone wants to spend OVER the amount you’ve saved for the trip for some special purchase or something.

Sometimes we cannot afford all the things we want to do and sometimes we overspend. These tips should help you avoid overspending, but more importantly, they may help you actually relax and recharge while you are away. Isn’t that what it’s about anyway?