How to make a travel budget

Summer, that is to say the holiday season, is fast approaching. And whether your ideal getaway is beach relaxation, outdoor adventures, or exploring a new city, it’s worth planning. Literally.

I would like to escape. How to save for a vacation?

You’re not alone. A study says 71% of Americans plan to take a leisure trip in 2022. And they plan to spend (for revenge) 29% more than before the pandemic in 2019. But you don’t have to go broke to get a Pause. Before you even start planning your travel itinerary, here’s how to make the trip you’ve been waiting for a reality.

  • Make a sinking fund. Aka your new travel companion. These funds are where you put money aside with the intention of spending it for a greater purpose. For bonus points, automate a certain amount in your sinking fund from each paycheck.

  • Timing is everything. True for relationships, real estate, and travel deals. Find the cheapest places to go when the temperature rises and plan accordingly. You’ll also get your money’s worth by checking destinations with a favorable exchange rate. If you’re thinking of the beach, head to Costa Rica, Mexico or Colombia. Europe? Try Turkey, Portugal or the Czech Republic. For somewhere further east, your dollars will go a long way to Thailand or the Philippines. Reminder: Remember to check the latest COVID-19 restrictions before booking and taking off.

  • Book smart. Renting a house is often a better deal than booking a hotel. Not only will you save on the price, but you’ll be able to cook instead of eat at every meal. That said, there are some great budget hotels out there – do your homework to make sure the way you go is budget friendly. Hosting, hacked.

How do I continue to save while on vacation?

True Story: Traveling isn’t like real life, so it’s easier to splurge. And if you visit a popular tourist spot, everything costs more. Here’s how to see the sights without losing sight of your budget (sorry).

  • Food is a money vampire. If you have access to a kitchen where you are staying, cook breakfast, cook lunch, and cook dinner when you can. Alternatively, head to a supermarket or farmer’s market for an easy and cheap breakfast. And when eating out, opt for lunch or appetizers, where menu items tend to be less expensive.

And once back to reality?

If you suffer from a spendthrift hangover — investigation says 42% of Americans have gone into debt to pay for their vacation – make a plan to pay it back. First, do the math to determine exactly how much you’ve spent over your limit. Sip. Once you know the number, set a schedule. Then divide the total amount by the number of months until you plan to pay it back. Breaking the total up into bite-sized chunks makes it less daunting. And the sooner you pay off your plastic, the less interest you’ll have to pay.


Vacations should be fun and not stressful. Planning ahead, staying cash efficient during your stay, and regrouping when you return is a recipe for OOO without the oh no.

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Skimmed by Liz Knueven, Kamaron McNair, Megan Beauchamp, Casey Bond and Stacy Rapacon