Inside: Planning to travel soon? A vacation savings account is the perfect way to enjoy your trip without the stress of debt. Get a free printable for fun savings!
The first time I ever saw the ocean was on my honeymoon. After the stress of planning a wedding and dealing with minute details for months, that was the most relaxing vacation I’d ever had. We enjoyed it so much that we decided then and there that we’d be coming back within 5 years.
Kind of a stretch for two kids in their early 20s with not much in the way of job prospects. But we made it work! Five years and two kids later, we were back.
Since then, we’ve tried to take a nice vacation like this every couple of years. A trip like this is a splurge for sure, especially with a family of seven. But with some careful savings, we make it work.
How We Fill Our Vacation Savings Account
How much will this trip cost you? Write down a guess at how much you’ll spend on accommodations, travel (including plane tickets, rental cars, gas, etc.), food, and fun. Then add 10%… because it always costs more than you expect it to.
Open an Account
You could keep this money in a jar if you want. For some people, seeing the money every day is motivation to keep saving for a fun trip.
But you might be better off opening an online savings account. Many of them are fee free and even give you a better interest rate than you can find at most local banks. I like to use Capital One 360 because you can open several accounts and dedicate them to one specific goal. So you can have an account named “Vacation savings account” and even track your way to your goal amount.
Other great places to keep a vacation savings account:
- Ally (another online bank)
- Local credit unions and banks (These are often more user friendly with fewer fees. Call around for your best rates.)
- Your current bank (Call to see if they have a vacation savings club.)
Either way, remember that this money shouldn’t be part of your emergency fund or regular savings account. It’s money you are dedicating to a trip. Don’t mistake fun for an emergency.
Fill It With Money
Ideally you would set up an automatic withdrawal from your checking account to hit your vacation savings account each month (or every time you’re paid). If you can’t pay cash for your trip, you should seriously reconsider going. Take a small vacation if you need a getaway, but don’t put it on a credit card!!
If you don’t want to pull money from your paychecks to pay for a vacation, you can still get it done using cash you’ve saved. You’ll just have to get a little more creative.
I’m all about finding fun ways to save money! Choose your favorite idea from this list of ways to inspire yourself to save.
Or you could print off this fun chart to get as much enjoyment from your trip as possible. Don’t just save $10. Save $10 to pay for part of your delicious seafood dinner. Or save $50 to pay for a corner of the house you plan to rent! (On a stressful day, imagine that you’re paying for the hot tub or the comfy couch.)
Use the numbers from the quick estimate you wrote out to complete this chart and get to saving! (Click to download and print your own copy!)
S-t-r-e-t-c-h Your Budget
Here are some tips for saving money on your trip and stretching those dollars as far as you can.
Where are you going? Do you want to go to Myrtle Beach, or is any place near the ocean good enough? If you’re willing to stay somewhere off the beaten path, you can save big.
If you start your planning ahead of time, you can wait for a good deal. You’ll also have a better selection. Last minute travelers can pick up deals on rooms that would otherwise sit empty. (Owners and managers don’t like losing money on empty rooms, so they’ll likely cut you a deal!)
Where will you stay? Broaden your thoughts. If you need a hotel, I recommend hotels.com for great rates. But remember that hotels aren’t your only option.
- Consider sharing a house with friends and family. Many houses are big enough that you can all have your own space.
- Look into state or federal parks. Many have cabin rentals and other options at a variety of prices.
- Rent or borrow an RV or camper from a friend.
Studies show that the best time to book plane tickets is on Tuesday afternoon.
If you’re renting a car, shop through Ebates so you can get a decent chunk of cash back. Check in with your own insurance agent before you pay extra for more coverage from the rental agency.
Save up the fuel points you earn at your grocery store for a nice discount on gas. If you’ll have to fill up more than once, buy gift cards for other gas stations from your grocery store to earn even more gas points! (Be sure to buy gift cards for gas stations that will be in the area you plan to travel to!)
Be sure to check out the details of your store’s fuel points program. For example, at Kroger you can earn an unlimited amount of fuel points. But you can only redeem them at a maximum of 35 gallons at a time. (Which should fill most tanks anyway!)
Food & Fun
The obvious way to save here is by not dining out for every meal. Hit a local grocery store for some supplies when you reach your destination. A picnic lunch can be a cheap way to add some fun to your food. Grill out whenever you can.
You can still save on the meals you prefer to buy. Like I said before, you can buy gift cards at the grocery store for chain restaurants. You can also redeem your Swagbucks for gift cards to chain restaurants. (By the way, Swagbucks also offers gift cards for travel and gas!)
Prefer to dine at local hot spots? Want to check out some new places for entertainment? Check Groupon for deals using the zip code you’re headed to.
Fill that vacation savings account and get ready for some fun…without the stress of debt!
Be sure to check out the fun chart I made that will have another $1,000 in your savings account this time next year!
What tricks do you use to save money for vacations?