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How to Save Up for Your Dream Vacation

You’ve worked hard all year – now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor with a vacation! These strategies will help you build up your savings, so you can blow off some steam without blowing up your bank account.

Two people at the beach carrying surfboards and running towards the ocean

Whether you’re pining for a sunny beachside siesta, an adventure-packed family road trip or some museum and restaurant-hopping in a new-to-you city, you’ll find it much more relaxing if you’re not stressing over how to pay for it all. The sooner you implement these saving strategies, the sooner you can getaway guilt-free.

Get an early start:
If you already have an idea of the trip you’d like to take, calculate the total cost of expenses – transportation, lodging, activities/entertainment, food and drinks, shopping, etc. – and then determine how much you’ll need to save each month to reach that savings goal. The further in advance you plan, the less you’ll have to put aside from your paycheck each month. But don’t panic if your PTO is right around the corner – there are other tactics you can employ to reach your savings goal.

Set money to the side, literally:
Opening a dedicated account specifically for your vacation savings accomplishes a few things simultaneously. If you struggle with restraint, having these funds separated from your day-to-day checking account will discourage you from withdrawing and spending the money for non-vacation expenses. You can even set up monthly auto-payments into the account to hold yourself accountable and ensure you’re contributing on schedule. And if it’s a high-yield savings account, even better! Your money might even grow a bit on its own.

Make your credit cards work for you:
Using the right credit card responsibly throughout the year can earn you serious cash back rewards to supplement your vacation fund. As long as you’re able to pay off your balance in full each month, might as well use your card for regular expenditures to take advantage of any rewards points or cash back deals on the table. Planning to travel internationally? Some cards will even give you access to a global concierge service to assist you while abroad.

Go at it the old-fashioned way:
Sometimes the quickest way to increase your savings is to decrease your expenses, increase your income or both. That could mean cutting down on discretionary spending in the near term – think take-out, impulse shopping, concert tickets, streaming subscriptions, etc. – in order to enjoy the trip of a lifetime next year. Or you can get creative with ways to make some extra cash. Consider selling some items you no longer need or even picking up a side job to reach your vacation savings goal quicker.

Plan a more affordable vacation:
Didn’t save as much as you were hoping to? Don’t worry! You can still enjoy your trip on a fixed budget. Here are some considerations for planning a more affordable vacation:

  • Avoid popular travel months for your destination and aim for the off-season.
  • Look for coupons (Groupon, AAA, AARP) to get discounts on activities.
  • Stay at an Airbnb or VRBO rather than a luxury hotel.
  • Skip the room service and cook the majority of your meals wherever you’re staying – just don’t forget to splurge at a restaurant or two.