Some of my favorite memories with my children center around family vacations. I love seeing the world through their eyes. We take a lot for granted as we age. Currently, my children haven’t lost their sense of wonder and I find it so refreshing. My husband and I value education, especially outside of the traditional classroom. We want to foster our children’s curiosity and love for travel and new experiences. By doing so, we’ll create memories with our children that will last a lifetime. For our family, traveling together is something we really enjoy and want to make a priority.
Unfortunately, nothing can ruin a much-anticipated vacation like the stress of being financially unprepared. Whether you’re hoping to plan for next summer’s trip, or you’re looking to take a vacation in the next few months, the best advice I can give you is to start early and plan ahead.
The worst possible thing you can do is put your trip on a credit card and think, “I’ll just pay that off later.” If you take the time to budget for travel expenses, just imagine how relaxed and carefree you’ll be during your vacation.
If you want to take a vacation in the next few months and are wondering how to prepare financially, here are a few tips:
- Include vacations in your monthly budget. Vacations are one of the items many people forget to include in their monthly budget since it’s a non-recurring expense. Most people only take a vacation once, or maybe, twice per year. I recommend contributing money each month to a savings account specifically earmarked for vacations. Then you’ll know exactly what you have to spend when it’s time to plan a trip. Best of all, you won’t feel the least bit guilty because you’ll know your family has saved money for this very reason. This is how to really travel well. To get started, I’m giving away a FREE budget worksheet so you can easily decide how much you can afford to save for vacations each month. Simply click on EmilyGStroud.com and enter your email address when prompted. Then I will personally send you the FREE budget worksheet.
- Take a longer vacation. This summer my family is heading to Utah for a full month to escape the Texas heat. I can’t wait. We’re renting a small apartment for the entire month. Before you start thinking this sounds very extravagant, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Most real estate managers or homeowners will offer a significantly better price to long-term renters. More often than not, the nightly rental rate will be discounted if they have a guaranteed renter for a longer period of time. Additionally, if you rent a home for more than 30 days, you’re considered a long-term renter for tax purposes. This really benefits you financially because you won’t be required to pay daily taxes like you would on a week-to-week rental, or hotel room. Daily taxes add up VERY quickly on a shorter trip. The savings is significant in the end if you can avoid the taxes all together.
- Be your own chef. Since we’re staying in an apartment during our Utah vacation, we plan to purchase groceries and eat the majority of our meals at home. This will allow us more financial freedom to enjoy memorable excursions during our vacation. If you want to take a vacation this summer but your funds are limited, find a house or condo to rent with a kitchen or kitchenette, rather than a basic hotel room. I recommend doing a bit of research on websites such as www.vrbo.com, www.homeaway.com, or www.airbnb.com. Eating in is a great option and a huge budget saver.
- Plan a good, old-fashioned road trip. One way to dramatically save on vacation expenses is to choose a destination within driving distance. This allows you to save the money you would have spent on airfare for the actual vacation. This is especially true when travelling with children. Your family will have more discretionary funds for your trip and you’ll likely make some amazing memories along the way. There is just something about a road trip that builds lasting memories.
- Consider visiting national parks or just enjoy the great outdoors. There is no greater time than summer to spend with Mother Nature. However, this type of vacation is still not FREE. You’ll need proper camping gear or an RV, food, and transportation to your destination. One tip I like to share is to consider renting your camping equipment or RV, rather than buying new. Also, you should be able to save considerable amounts of money on food by taking your groceries with you.
- Consider utilizing travel rewards credit cards. There are entire blogs and books devoted to free travel utilizing credit card rewards programs. This sounds amazing in theory. However, if you’re not disciplined with your credit card usage, you may end up in a mountain of debt that you can’t afford to pay off. That being said, if you’re responsible and not tempted to overspend because you have access to more credit, there are some fantastic benefit features involving travel benefits and credit cards. Here is a link to a website that compares and contrasts various travel rewards credit card offers, and their specific programs. CLICK HERE for more information.
Finally, I share more advice about preparing financially for travel in my latest video.
For more tips on planning for your financial future, please pick up a copy of my latest book: Faithful Finance: 10 Secrets to Move from Fearful Insecurity to Confident Control. This new book is a practical guide, revealing ten life-changing secrets that work in every financial situation, for every income level, at every stage of life.
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.