How to Budget for Vacations and Save a Little Money

a family packs their car for vacation

You work hard and deserve some time away from your day-to-day life. When money is tight, you need to create a budget for your vacation. A budget helps you plan for the money you need on your trip, so you don't feel stressed during your holiday. Here's a look at some of the essential ways to budget for vacations and some tips for cutting corners and saving a little money.

Getting to Your Vacation Destination

The costs of airline tickets might be more expensive than driving to your destination, depending on how far you plan to travel and the time of year. Large families need multiple airline tickets that can cost anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to a thousand each. In this case, you're better off driving to your vacation spot. Determine how far you are from your getaway location and then determine how much you'll spend on gas. If the costs are higher than airline tickets, then book your flights. Otherwise, you should plan to drive to your destination. If you're traveling with children, pack snacks and toys to enjoy along the way. When you need to stop, look for a rest stop instead of a gas station. Rest stops have room for kids to stretch their legs without all the temptation to buy drinks and souvenirs.

Where to Stay During Your Trip

The next budget item you need to plan for is a place to stay during your trip. Vacation towns tend to have a lot of options. If you plan to stay at a hotel, you want to look for one that offers free breakfast and other amenities. Just remember, there are other options available in most vacation towns. Your family could consider renting a vacation property for your stay. These properties are typically single-family homes or apartments. You can find a vacation rental with bedrooms for all of your family members, and you can use the kitchen to save money on food. Of course, you want to eat out on vacation, but you can save a lot by eating breakfast and lunch at your rental property. If you're staying close to a national park, you might look into camping opportunities. Some sporting goods stores rent tents and everything you need for a night or two under the stars.

Eating and Playing

One of the best ways to budget for vacations is to plan some meals and how much you want to pay for them. If you're driving to your destination, you might consider bringing staple food items with you, such as rice, cereal, snacks, pasta, and drinks. Many grocery stores in vacation towns charge more than your local market back home, so bringing food with you can save you a lot of money. Before leaving home, do your research for restaurants where you might want to eat. You can find the best places to eat in the area and view the menus and pricing to add the expense to your budget. You might even find coupons and Happy Hours with discounted prices. While on vacation, you'll probably want to visit a theme park or take in a show. You need to budget for these items. You might consider writing up an itinerary so you can see what activities might charge an admission fee. When you arrive in town, stop by the city's welcome center to see if they have coupons and discounts off local attractions and restaurants to save even more money.

You can have the vacation you want and deserve with a little planning and a detailed budget. Make sure to account for all the major expenses, including transportation, food, a place to stay, and activities to enjoy. Once you have a realistic budget, you can start saving and planning your trip without stretching money too tight.