Budgeting for your Dream Vacation

Dreaming of a vacation, but don’t think you can afford it?
Maybe it’s time to add vacation savings to your budget planner. Vacations can be costly, whether you want to relax on a quiet beach or run wild at an amusement park with the kids. From lodging to eating every meal out, one or two carefree weeks away from home takes serious planning up front.
Instead of putting it off, or putting it all on credit, set aside a little something today and have a debt-free, relaxing vacation next year.

Here are a few reasons why vacations are important, and ways to help you get what you deserve.

Vacations are Good for Your Mental and Physical Well Being
It’s easy to say that you work to live, not live to work.
Everyone has times when they want to jump in the car or hop on a plane and escape to a quiet, relaxing place. But escaping is more enjoyable when money isn’t an issue, and other responsibilities at work and at home are covered.
Plan ahead so you can enjoy your vacation and not return to twice as much work as you left. Make arrangements early. Saving a little each month toward your vacation can help avoid racking up debt that you’d deal with later. It’s hard to save for another vacation if you’re still paying off last year’s.

If you have pets that won’t travel with you, don’t forget to add kennel fees or other expenses related to their care while you’re away. If Fido or FiFi will make the trip, remember pet fees at hotels and kennel services out of town for times when puppy or kitty can’t be with you at restaurants and attractions. You might also think about a vet visit to be sure all their paperwork and shots are in order.
Get on the path to bliss.

Plans are Made, so Where is the Money?
The longer you save, the better your vacation can be. If your budget is already healthy and your usual emergency funds are in order, you can divert some new savings into a vacation fund. As little as $165 a month adds up to nearly $2,000 at the end of the year. If that still seems a bit much, consider that $165 a month breaks down to only $5.50 a day.
If money is hard to come by, you’ll have to get creative. Yard sales bring in a little cash. Few households don’t have forgotten clothing and other possessions to spare. If you’re lucky enough to pay off a bill such as a credit card or loan, redirect that payment into the vacation fund. You’ll never miss it. Cut coupons, shop sales, and anything else you can do to save money and add to the vacation fund.
Americans have built-in guilt when it comes to taking time off. Tuesday afternoon at a spa or Wednesday on a golf course seems almost sinful if there’s work that could be done. But all of that work without a break takes its toll. It can also lead to unplanned time off from illness or injury.
Plan for vacation now, and next year could find you sunning on a remote beach in the tropics, sitting by a campfire in the northern mountains, or barreling full-speed down a water slide in Florida.