January is the perfect time to start your vacation planning for the year! Budgeting and saving for a vacation can be daunting, but if you start now, you can start saving and planning for some amazing vacations later in the year. Planning ahead will help you avoid credit card debt too! Here are some of our tips to help plan out your vacations this year:
1. Avoid traveling during major holidays.
Not only will the airports be chaos, but airlines and hotels hike up the prices when they know people will be traveling. Holidays like Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are all major holidays during which the prices of flights and hotels will skyrocket. If you can avoid traveling during those holidays, you’ll save money. Try taking your vacation off-season, or at least not during a big holiday weekend.
2. Use Airbnb or stay with friends/family.
It’s no secret that hotels are expensive. Hotels and airfare are generally the most expensive parts of a vacation. If you’re taking a trip far away, you typically can’t get around the cost of airfare, but with accommodations, you have other options. If you are taking a vacation somewhere to visit friends or family, see if it’s possible to stay with them! Otherwise, check out Airbnb. Booking through Airbnb or similar companies is typically cheaper on average than a hotel room.
3. Plan and book ahead of time.
This may seem like the most obvious tip when it comes to budgeting and saving for a vacation, but it’s important! Waiting until the last minute to book flights and accommodations means that you will most likely end up paying more. Ideally, for domestic flights, you’ll want to book between 47 and 90 days in advance depending on the season. For international flights, you should probably book even farther out.
4. Search for flights in an incognito window.
You’ve probably noticed that every time you search the same flight in Google in a short time span, it seems like the prices get higher every time! Try searching for flights in an incognito window, or clearing your search history every time after you Google a flight. This may help keep the prices a little bit lower.
5. Have a separate vacation savings account.
Chances are, you have more than one savings goal. Maybe you’re saving up to buy a house, building up your emergency fund, or saving for your child’s college education. All of these savings goals should have separate savings accounts, including your vacation savings. Keeping your savings goals separate will help you stay organized, and it prevents the temptation of dipping into other savings goals to fund your vacation.