A great vacation is that perfect stress reducer, the memorable one. Sure, it’s nice to come back being rejuvenated but also happy that you searched out adventure and created new memories.
While many of us out there won’t have the tens of thousands of dollars to have a lavish getaway, there are ways to start planning and find ways to finance your vacation.
Aim for a comfortable middle between what you think you can spend versus what you can realistically spend, usually around one week of your salary or at most one pay period.
This is just a rough idea and everyone, of course, is going to have their preferences regarding where they want to go, stay, how much to spend and what kind of dream vacation they are after.
Besides putting money away from each paycheck, think of ways to eliminate potential waste that can add to your dream vacation budget instead of eating into it.
For example, stop eating fast food, stop the coffee shop visits, look for better deals at the grocery store, skip a night or weekend out with friends and instead invite them over for a BBQ or Netflix.
Raise some cash
To help raise some additional money go through your home and start selling things on eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or OfferUp.
If you require a vacation now you can always take a personal loan. If you have great credit you can probably get an unsecured loan from the bank.
If your credit isn’t all that prime right now, you can take out a secured loan or a home equity loan to help fund that dream vacation. Often banks lend anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000 depending on your status as a customer and credit history.
Now that we addressed financing options, let talk about three places which give you the best bang for your buck and the right time of year to visit.
Go at the right time
The last thing you want to do is visit South Florida during prime hurricane season or hit the ski slopes in Colorado when the snow is melted and the resorts are closing.
If there’s something you want to see, such as the tulips in Holland, go when they are in bloom. Take the time and research, research, research.
Write down your top three destinations. Try to avoid prime locations and peak times, as this can hike up costs. You will find when talking with family and friends that no two travel wish lists are alike, and your dream trip might be quite different than theirs.
Decide what is important, such as Destination USA vs international, sporting events, concerts, culture, history, scenery, restaurants, and more.
Take time and read travel blogs, watch the travel channel, follow Facebook groups, or ask your friends about their favorite destinations, use trusted sources to vet the places you want to go.
Prep your connections
Remember all the things that could go wrong, including lodging. Decide on the cities you’ll fly in and out of.
Flying into one city and out of another is usually more efficient and economical when you consider the time spent returning needlessly to your starting point by booking a round-trip flight.
Think carefully about which cities make the most sense as a first stop or a finale. Take time and read reviews on Google and Yelp and see what people are saying.
Packaging everything together — air, car, lodging — might lead to travel discounts. This works well with all-inclusive vacation packages.
Look at non-hotel options
If you are visiting an area for a long period, check out Airbnb and VRBO. There are many non-hotel options, such as a condo or home within the community near attractions or even right on the beach.
Plan your transit
Don’t rent a car at the airport. Instead, take a cab and then go to a local rental car location so you don’t have to pay the excessive airport fees. Book at least six weeks in advance and consider flying early morning to lower costs.
If you are vacationing in a purely walkable city, such as New York, skip the car rental and invest in a MetroCard for the week instead. Don’t forget to download the handy MTA apps for subway schedules and routes.
Switch up your schedule
While laying by the pool for a week straight often sounds like a good idea, somewhere around day three it tends to get a bit repetitive. Research local attractions so you have some ideas of what to do the day you decide to break the holiday routine.
Be sure crucial sights are open the day you’ll be in town. Remember, many restaurants and tourist areas close one day of the week (often a weekday). And many of the most important sights now require or highly recommend reservations in advance, which are easy to get online.
Let people know your plans
Organize and share your itinerary with family and friends you want to meet up with along the way. In addition, let family members know where you’ll be in case you run into difficulties. By taking the time to prepare now you will be happy and relaxed when you are on your dream vacation.
Don’t forget the tech
Finally, remember that electronics need charging so don’t forget to pack all of those cables and charging bricks so you can enjoy every minute capturing photos on your trip.