We know that navigating the past year has been difficult. COVID-19 has upended our lives—it’s changed our work routines, school schedules, the way we socialize, and it also shifted our vacation plans.
Many people have changed or canceled their vacations, and some have even had to dip into those vacation funds to cover bills and other unexpected expenses.
As we start the new year, it’s the ideal time to look ahead and begin re-planning that postponed getaway. With the right steps, you can plan, budget, and save. So when the time comes, you can utilize those vacation funds and enjoy your much-needed (and well-deserved) reward.
How to Budget for a Vacation
Whether you’re dreaming of swaying palm trees or falling snow, if you’re ready to begin budgeting for a 2021 vacation, we’re here to help. Once you’ve decided where you’d like to go, here are three simple steps to get you there.
1. Calculate Projected Costs
Vacation costs vary greatly depending on where you go, how you get there, and what your itinerary looks like. Calculating your projected costs before you dive into booking things like your hotel and activities is always a good plan. Consider the following factors as you map out your vacation.
Whether you take a bus, plane, train, boat, or your own car—the cost of getting to and from your destination tends to be a considerable expense. Whatever mode of transportation you choose, make sure to look into travel restrictions and refund policies in the event you need to cancel. Airlines, car rental companies, and transportation companies often offer flash sales or special deals, so be on the lookout for those before you book. If you’ll be driving your own vehicle, you’ll want to consider gas and car maintenance as well. Calculate what you need to do before your trip, like getting an oil change or a tire rotation. You’ll likely be transporting your luggage, too, so don’t forget to add that into the transportation equation.
Unless you’ll be staying with family or friends, lodging tends to make up a large percentage of vacation costs, too. Similar to transportation specials, once you fine-tune your destination of choice, you can look for lodging packages. If you’re planning a long drive, make sure to equate the hotel expenses you’ll need to break the trip up into more manageable sections. Try to book ahead of time, if possible, so you don’t run into last-minute fees (alternatively, some websites will offer last-minute specials, so you can search for those as well).
Food and Drink
A few coffees during a long drive or an extra cocktail at dinner can really add up when you’re on vacation. Of course, part of the vacation fun is splurging a bit, but it’s helpful to put a rough estimate of your food and drink costs down on paper beforehand. With a daily food and drink budget, you can stay on track.
Some of us prefer to lounge on the beach with a good book or explore our vacation surroundings with a hike or long walk. Others opt for more costly activities like whale watching or zip-lining. As part of your calculated costs, map out the activities you have in mind. Doing so beforehand will help eliminate unexpected activity costs and keep your budget in-line.
As you put your calculated costs to paper, the more details you can include, the better. With a solid budgeting plan and an accurate cost prediction, you’ll feel more prepared and less stressed for the vacation fun ahead.
2. How to Put Money Aside
Once you figure out how much your trip will cost, then you know how much you need to save. Whatever your projected cost may be, we suggest putting away a little extra money. Unexpected expenses on vacation are inevitable and with a little budget flexibility, you can feel free to splurge on that souvenir or special experience.
Initially, when you look at the total projected costs of your future vacation, it can be a bit overwhelming. A good approach is to assess the total number of weeks between now and your departure date. Divide your vacation budget by the number of weeks to break your overall cost up into a manageable weekly goal.
When your paycheck comes in, set aside this smaller amount, and watch it grow. If you find that it’s difficult to set aside that much per week, it might be necessary to rework your overall budget.
Another way to set helpful reminders is to write important due dates for payments down on a calendar leading up to the date of departure. These check-ins will ensure that you’re on-target with your budgeting and saving.
3. How Teachers Can Help
At Teachers, we’re here to help you save and make a plan for the future. We know how exciting planning a vacation can be. That’s why we offer a Vacation Savings Club to help you budget for your dream trips.
You can choose to automatically transfer an amount into your Vacation Savings Club account each month or set a direct deposit that is put into the account every time you receive a paycheck. When vacation season rolls around—on or about June 4th—the money is automatically transferred to your checking or savings account.
We know that putting money aside and not using it for other expenses can be the most challenging part. That’s why we’ve set up our Vacation Savings Club to make saving simple and straightforward.
If your new year calls for a vacation, we hope you’ll utilize these steps and start your budget planning today! As always, please get in touch with one of our financial service representatives with any questions or to learn more about our Vacation Savings Club. Now all that’s left to do is decide where you’ll go and get planning!