When planning for a trip, it’s all about preparation—what to pack, where to go, who to see. Perhaps the most important prep step happens months in advance. Saving up for a vacation takes time, dedication and finding the best savings plan for you.
April Powell has been a travel consultant since 1981 and is the assistant manager for Ocala Travel. To save successfully, Powell says the most important thing when budgeting for a trip is to account for the spending you’ll do while there.
“When you’re booking your vacation, you’ll know the cost of the hotel and maybe how much it costs you to travel to that place. It’s important that people remember to budget for extra expenses, like where you are going to eat in that area. Are you going to want to do some really nice dining? Make sure you’re looking at the total picture. It’s not just about the money you prepay for something but the costs while you’re enjoying the vacation.”
Begin planning by deciding where you want to go and for how long. Discussing your plans with a travel agent can help you determine a realistic budget, and they can help you score discounted rates on travel and lodging.
“We do not charge a fee for helping someone plan a vacation; we’re compensated by suppliers,” Powell explains. “With cruises as an example, I have a group going next March, and we negotiated some great rates for them—probably $300 to $400 dollars less per person than if someone contacted that cruise line directly.”
When working with a travel agent, you can also make monthly payments to their office to make budgeting for your big trip bite-sized versus paying in full.
“Normally you make a deposit from $100 or more with a final payment date of 90 days ahead of your trip. If you’re booking further ahead, we can help figure out how much they need to pay per month. That can help you decide if it’s something you can afford or plan for that more expensive vacation at a later date,” Powell says.
There are many other methods of saving for travel for those not working with an agent. Credit cards offer miles and travel rewards, some that can even be transferred to Airbnb. Most major banks offer a savings method that, when you use your debit card, rounds up to the nearest dollar and deposits the change into a savings account. Allocate these into a separate travel savings account and you can watch your funds grow with minimal effort.