Two tickets to paradise might sound priceless, but the expense is not. The average cost of a one-week vacation for two, in the U.S., is nearly $3,200.1 Add a couple kids, and it’s almost $5,800 – for a mid-range trip.2
If that sum sounds too rich for your budget, look at it this way: $5,800 breaks down to $110 a week over one year. Or, $55 a week over two years. Approach your vacation plans in terms of how much you can set aside per week, like this, and you can then budget the kind of getaway that won’t put you in debt.
The following savings and cost-cutting tips can help get you “there,” whether it’s a trip to the Big Apple for four, or a wine country getaway for two.
Let’s start with a savings plan. These steps will enable you to establish your vacation fund.
You can choose a vacation that fits into the amount of money you have already saved, or you can calculate how much you can save per week and choose a vacation that will fit within that sum. What matters is self-accountability – staying within these budgetary guidelines will prevent you and your family from going into vacation debt.
Once you’ve figured out how much to save, put it in a place that’s separate from your other money and obligations. A high-yield savings account, for example, will add interest to what you save. Once the account is set up, schedule automatic direct deposits so you never “miss” the money going into the account. See what a high-yield savings account can offer you.
If you have $500 or more to start saving toward a trip now, consider putting it into a certificate of deposit (CD). These limited-time savings options typically generate higher interest than savings accounts, and come with commitments as short as six months. You can look for special offers on higher-interest rates here.
A lot of mobile apps are designed to help less-disciplined spenders save more, and it’s easy to find listings online.3 Some apps can round up charges on purchases and apply the balance to a savings account, or make automated deposits into an account. With First Financial’s banking app, it’s easy to keep track of your budget with real-time alerts, and you can seamlessly deposit a check, without a fee, by snapping a photo of it.
Now that your savings schedule is set, you should search the couch cushions of your life for spare money that can bolster your savings. Here are three suggestions.
When possible, pay for elements of the trip beforehand. Cruises typically take full or partial payments a year in advance,4 and one Expedia.com option allows users to pay for vacations in installments.5 Some Airbnb hosts permit their renters to pay the full or partial amount upon booking, yet guarantee refunds if they cancel within a predetermined period of time.
Lots of airlines, hotels, and rental car companies partner to save their loyalty program members money if travelers package their vacations using those brands. Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines, for example, offer rental car deals to frequent flyer members.6, 7 Likewise, many travel booking sites, such as Kayak.com, bundle flights, hotels, and rentals to save money and time.8
Before pulling out your physical or mobile wallet, ask: Is this purchase necessary? By skipping one weekly lunch, a daily lottery ticket, or monthly clothing purchase, you could save $100 a month or more. Is online shopping a habit? Try a 30-day e-commerce diet. Balance what brings you sustained happiness now with the desire to take the trip later.
True, sometimes the price tag for a dream vacation can be as breathtaking as the destination, but it doesn’t have to take the wind out of your sails. Be realistic about what you really enjoy and what you can afford, and be true to the budget.
Then, use the entire venture as a learning experience for the next trip.
Need a little help budgeting and saving? Send us a message about your budget goals, or find a nearby banking center.
1 “The average cost of a vacation: Transportation, food, entertainment and more,” (Actual cost is $3,156) By Karen Bennett, Bankrate.com, Nov. 29, 2022; https://www.bankrate.com/banking/cost-of-vacation/
2 “The cost of a vacation,” (“Our data shows prices for a mid-range week-long vacation can quickly go from about $1,750 for one person to $5,750 for a family of four.”) Champion Traveler; https://championtraveler.com/the-cost-of-a-vacation/
3 “8 best money saving apps for 2023,” By Karen Bennett, Bankrate.com, Jan 17, 2023; https://www.bankrate.com/banking/savings/best-money-saving-apps/#digit
4 “How to Book a Cruise: Booking a Cruise FAQs,” Cruise Critic; https://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=1159
5 “Vacation Deposit and Payment Packages,” Expedia; https://www.expedia.com/lp/b/vacations/payment-plans
6 "Status in the air and on the road: Delta and Hertz enhance partnership benefits,” Delta Air Lines, Jan. 30, 2023; https://news.delta.com/status-air-and-road-delta-and-hertz-enhance-partnership-benefits
7 “Car Rental Offers and Deals,” Southwest Airlines; https://www.southwest.com/special-offers/car-offers/
8 “Trip bundling is growing: Here are 6 places you can plan a trip from start to finish,” By Adrienne Jordan, USA Today, May 22, 2019; https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/news/2019/05/22/vacation-packages-websites-apps-plan-trip-start-finish/3692467002/
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