Vacations are a great way to refresh and relax. In addition, research has shown that taking a vacation can improve your mood and lessen the symptoms of conditions like high blood pressure and depression. In essence, taking a vacation could literally save your life.
However, vacations can also be costly, and many people have trouble sticking to their budgets when on vacation. We don’t want to come back home having spent more than what we initially planned on. Here are some tips on staying within your budget while still having a blast on vacation alone or with friends and family.
1. Set a realistic budget before booking your trip
The first order of business is to sit down and work out how much money you can afford to spend. From there, it’s a question of what type of holiday you’d like within your budget. You must set a realistic budget before booking flights or accommodation.
After choosing different options for the experience you want, compare prices and see which one suits you best according to the budget you have set. Calculate how much you can afford to spend on your holiday, and then ensure that the cost of your trip doesn’t exceed this amount.
2. Record every holiday-related expense
When you’re on vacation, ensure that every penny leaving your account is recorded in a notebook or on your phone. This includes costs such as flights, hotels, and activities.
And remember: no purchase is too small to log. It’s easy to overlook small things like postcards or snacks bought from vending machines, but they can add up quickly if you let them slip through the cracks. Some smartphone apps will help track your spending by category or type (meals, groceries, shopping). Seeing where your money goes might help you identify the areas where you’re overspending and make smarter decisions during the trip.
3. Use a prepaid card for every non-emergency purchase
It’s easy to lose track of what you’re spending when you’re on holiday, so load a prepaid travel card with enough money to cover the costs of food, souvenirs, and other non-essential expenses. It’s a great way to limit your spending because you can only spend the money you’ve already put on the card.
A prepaid card is usually linked with one of your existing checking accounts. So it’s not like carrying extra cash around with you. It also doesn’t have an overdraft limit, leading to interest charges or fees if you overspend. Note: prepaid cards don’t help you with credit scores in any way, but they do allow you to control spending, which is the goal when you’re on vacation.
4. Set a daily spending limit
While preparing for your trip, allocate money per day for meals, entertainment, and other expenses. Determine how much you can afford to spend each day based on your total budget, and ensure you don’t go over this amount. It requires discipline because no matter how much planning goes into staying within budget on vacation, there are always those unplanned expenses that can throw a wrench in your plans!
This will help keep your total expenses down and allow you to save more money for souvenirs and other fun things. A simple way to do this is to consider how much money you can afford to spend on your trip and divide that by the number of days you plan to be away. That will give you a reasonable daily spending limit.
5. Find out rewards on travel credit cards
Some card providers offer rewards points for every dollar spent, redeemable for free/cheaper flights or hotel stays. If you use credit cards for all of your purchases, look for one that offers rewards on travel expenses such as flights, hotels, and things like cheap car hauling or rental services.
You should also ensure that the credit card you choose doesn’t have high foreign transaction fees, especially if you’re planning to spend your vacation abroad.
6. Set a limit for spontaneous expenses
Sometimes, the best part of traveling is the spontaneity of it all — trying out new restaurants, buying a souvenir from a vendor, or taking in a local show. If you’re the type of person who likes to purchase random things on holiday, set a limit before you leave home.
It’s not always possible to predict what you’ll have the urge to splurge on while on vacation, but having a general idea can keep you from going overboard. For example, if sightseeing is high on your list of priorities, having money set aside for those activities could curb the temptation to make impulse purchases.
7. Be familiar with foreign currency exchange rates
If you’re traveling abroad, find out the current exchange rate between your home and local currency before booking a trip. This way you’ll know how much things will cost when you arrive at your destination.
It pays to know how much U.S. dollars are worth in other countries so that you don’t get ripped off by vendors who charge more than necessary for their products or services. It also helps you to make an accurate budget without misconceptions. In addition, if you plan to use your credit card overseas, check whether your bank charges foreign transaction fees for processing overseas payments and the like.
If you’re thinking of going on a trip soon, have no fear because there are lots of ways to stick to a budget without compromising your vacation experience, as we’ve detailed above. From shopping more strategically to booking a cheaper flight, you can use any of these tips in conjunction with the others to ensure your next vacation is affordable and enjoyable.
With the proper planning, you can have fun without spending much money. Start early, keep track of your spending, and go with the flow. That way, you’re sure to get the most out of your vacation. So, where will you be traveling this year?