Dreaming of visiting The Colosseum? Machu Picchu? Wyoming? Whatever your idea of the perfect vacation is, the cost can get out of control pretty quick—making saving money beforehand all the more important. After you’ve laid out your plans and determined how much you'll need to vacay comfortably, here are a few sweet tips to help you start saving.
1. Pay Bills on Time
One of the easiest ways to save money for your vacation is to make sure you’re paying all of your bills on time. Paying bills late can mean you’re paying late fees that you can avoid. If you have trouble making payments on time, consider setting up automatic payments so it’s already done for you. For flexibility, you can even schedule reminders a few days before due dates, so you get a notification that it’s coming up.
2. Download an App
Did you know some apps will put money right in your savings account for you? It’s true! Apps like Acorn, Mint, and Chime have been designed to make saving money a passive experience. After downloading, you’ll link your checking and savings account to the app.
As you make purchases, these apps will round your total up to the next dollar and deposit those cents into your savings account. Some even allow you to link a credit card. The next time you buy lunch for $5.79, that’s 21 cents deposited to your savings account. And just like your change jar, those small savings can add up quickly!
3. Open a Vacation Account
If you’re into active saving, open a separate account for vacation money to see exactly how much you’ve saved quickly. By creating a real-life account with a special name, it can help you really start to see your vacation coming to life. Make a plan to set aside a certain percentage or amount of each paycheck in this account. Your savings plan can be based on how many months you have before the trip. Look for an account that pays you interest each month, that will add a few pennies here and there.
4. Create Small Savings Goals
Instead of having a large amount of money as your end goal, make a list of smaller savings goals. Your first goal can be saving enough for your transportation and accommodations. Smaller goals can be for activities you want to do while you’re away, like entrance for a museum or a Segway tour of your destination. Setting small goals like this allows you to prioritize what is most important to save for.
5. Prepay if Possible
Prepaying for excursions and food vouchers can save you quite a bit on your vacation, which makes the bottom line of your trip that much lower. Search for deals on sites like Groupon and LivingSocial that will save you money off the regular general admission. Having certain activities, meals, and experiences paid for in advance will also keep you from being tempted to add-on any extras. Remember to print out your voucher or receipt to bring with you.
6. Ask for Discounts
As you’re researching prices, be sure to check if there are any discounts you can take advantage of to save money. Common discount options are available for military service members, AAA members, and students. It is always worth it to ask.
7. Consider Travel Insurance
An emergency may come up that means you need to stay home when you were planning to be away. The way to avoid losing most or all of the money you’ve put toward your trip is getting travel insurance. This insurance will reimburse you for some expenses if a qualifying reason keeps you from your travels. If this happens, you can stick that money right back in your vacation account for your rescheduled or next trip.