I enjoy planning vacations. If I didn’t have the job I do now, maybe I could have done it for a living. But vacations can get expensive. With a little research and budgeting, creating a travel plan can actually provide you with the relief and control that makes your vacation even more enjoyable. So, here are seven steps to plan a budget-friendly trip:
Plan your trip budget
This is the most crucial step, and it will impact the rest of your vacation planning process. Calculate the amount you’re willing to allocate for expenses like hotels, gas, souvenirs, and meals. It doesn’t have to break the bank—there are many ways to plan an affordable vacation.
Choose the top places you’d like to go
Typically, this can be the easiest (and most enjoyable) part of your plan. But, here are a few queries you should ask yourself :
- What destinations fit within my budget?
- Should I plan the trip independently or consider hiring a travel agent, depending on the chosen destination?
- Am I driving or flying?
Do you know that in some popular U.S. cities, there are plenty of free and super cheap things to do?
Research flights and dates
When you’re planning your trip, know that traveling during certain times of the year is cheaper than others. Everyone knows flights around the holidays are more expensive, but there are other factors that determine how much you’ll pay for that flight or hotel. Do your research, play around with dates, and decide how many days you can stay.
Look for deals.
You can find websites on the internet that can help you get deals on hotels, amusement park tickets, airline travel, and more. Here are some great resources:
- Google Flights
- Groupon Getaways
- Scott’s Cheap Flights
Make sure to shop for deals after setting your budget – for two reasons. First, once you know where you’re going and how much you want to spend, you’ll be looking for specific savings. Second, it’s empowering to know when you get a deal, you’re staying within your budget.
Start saving up
This is where the rubber hits the road! By working and saving now, you won’t have to struggle with payments or credit card interest rates when you get home. When you’re working double shifts or freelancing, use your trip as motivation. Print a picture of your destination (like a beautiful beach or snowy mountains) or keep it on your phone’s lock screen to remind yourself why you’re working.
Create your itinerary
As you save for your trip, you can start scheduling which activities you’ll do on which days. What sightseeing, tourism, and attractions will you see? Do you need to make any reservations in advance? If you’re running around a lot one day, do you need some downtime the next? I find planning ahead and booking a few things ahead of time is fun. I like to see that it’s paid and check it off my list. Use Yelp or TripAdvisor for reviews and price comparisons to make sure you’re not blowing your vacation budget.
Go and enjoy your trip!
There’s nothing wrong with paying for your trip for months afterward. But if you take these steps to plan ahead and budget, you’ll avoid that headache. Then when you’re on your trip, savor it! Relax and have fun. Vacations are meant for enjoyment, not stress. So make a budget and make a plan. My favorite way to budget is the Every Dollar budgeting app. enjoy even more of your upcoming vacations!