Vacations and trips are essential. Most of us are stressed out at least some of the time as we take on more and more. We’re working hard, pushing for promotions and advancements. We’re looking after our families and children or caring for older relatives. Many of us also have a side-hustle, or we’re trying to start our own business. On top of all that, we’re facing longer commutes, longer working hours and trying to keep up with exercise and fitness. You might even be trying to fit a social life in or stick to a hobby.
Life is busy, and few of us rest as much as we need to. If you run your own business or work as a freelancer, you might even find that you never take a full day off and that you haven’t been on holiday for as long as you can remember.
Taking some time off to go on vacation gives you a break. Getting away, even for a few days can help you to reduce your stress levels and unwind. It can boost your physical and mental health and improve your mood. It can help you to put your problems in perspective and spot solutions. You might find that you return from your break feeling refreshed and ready to go. It can improve your work performance and your relationships. It’s certainly worth it.
Unfortunately however many of us go on a lot less holidays than we should. One of the biggest reasons for putting off taking a vacation is financial. Trips can be expensive, especially if you’ve got a family. Once you’ve paid for flights and accommodation you still need to worry about spending money, food, clothes, and toiletries, as well as your trip to the airport, parking and any luggage that you might need. Even a short trip can become costly.
If you are desperate to get away but worried about money, don’t be. You can have a fantastic vacation even on a small budget. You just need to be a little more organized and prepared. If you’ve got a good credit score, you might be able to spread the cost of your break, but you won’t always need to. Here are some tips to help you to plan your next vacation on a budget.
If you plan to travel later on this year, you should already be looking at deals. You might be able to get a significant discount if you book months in advance. Look at some winter sun trips for the end of the year, or even early next year. This might seem a long time away, but the saving could be significant, it’ll give you plenty of time to save and pay in installments, to buy holiday clothes and essentials and to save spending money Plus, it’s always nice to have a trip booked to look forward to.
Alternatively, booking late is another option that can be much cheaper. Hotels and flights never want to be any less than full. So, if they aren’t fully booked, they’ll often offer out cheaper deals and discounts. The savings can be better than if you book early but you won’t have as much choice on where you can go, and you’ll have to be flexible enough to accept whatever dates are available.
Whether you want to book early or late, it’s a good idea to use a site like Skyscanner to set up price alerts if there is somewhere specific you want to travel, or you are tied to set dates.
Flying on Saturdays and Sundays can be significantly more expensive than taking a midweek trip. Many people travel for long weekends, so it’s also a good idea to avoid Mondays and Fridays. Tuesday - Thursday flights are often much cheaper. Early morning and late night flights can also be less expensive than those during the day.
Different airlines stagger prices in different ways, so it’s worth shopping around. It’s also worth comparing flights from different airports. Sometimes it’s cheaper to travel to an airport further away, even if you need to buy train tickets for that trip.
Book Things Separately
Package holidays are easy to book, and can sometimes offer great discounts. But, not always. Sometimes, you pay extra for the convenience of the service. Compare package deals to how much you might pay if you booked flights and accommodation separately.
Avoid Peak Trips
During the school holidays, the same flights and hotel can suddenly double in price. In the summer holidays, maybe even more than double. If you’ve got kids and little choice, this can be hard to work into your budget. But, if you’re not tied to school term times, try to travel off-peak.
Shop in Sales
As soon as you know where you are going and when you will know what you need. If you are going somewhere warm, you might need to replenish your summer wardrobe. If you are off on a city break, you’ll need comfortable shoes and suitable clothing for dinners out and city tours. You might need warm layers and specialist equipment if you are hitting the slopes.
Look at what you’ve already got and make a list of everything that you need to buy as soon as you can. Then, take the time to shop the sales. Look for end of season sales, special offers and even closing down sales. It’s also worth looking on auction sites like eBay and at yard and charity sales. Make it your mission not to pay full price for anything.
Save Little and Often
Even if you are going on an all inclusive break, you will need some spending money. Budget for your trip, working out how much you’ll need for each day that you are away. Then, start saving. Put a little aside every week. Try using an app to help you to save. Collect spare change in a pot, or try the $1 savings challenge. Find a savings plan, or a range of plans that work for you, and stick with it. Even saving regular small amounts can add up to a big total before your trip.
Save While You Are There
Make your spending money go further by being careful with it. Cook your own meals or eat in small local cafes instead of large touristy restaurants. Walk places instead of getting buses and trains. Spend time booking days out online, which can be cheaper than paying entry on the day. Look online before you travel in case you can get any discount passes or vouchers.
Take a Road Trip
Remember that you don’t need to cross to the other side of the world to have a relaxing and enjoyable break. If your budget is tight, stay close to home. Take a road trip to save on flights and explore an area closer to home that you’ve never been to before. You could also try camping if you want to save more.