Is your PTO going to waste because you can’t afford a vacation? In 2016, American workers sacrificed 662 million earned days off by skipping vacations, but there are ways to book a family getaway while still being savvy about your savings.
Rather than getting major envy from your friends’ exotic vacation photos, use our money saving tips to book your own well-earned break and put that PTO to good use!
Start saving early
The best way to prevent wallet shock is by saving early for your vacation. You can start a second savings account for vacation spending—this way you can make automatic transfers each month and earn interest on your savings. While you are putting money aside each month, try cutting back on eating out and put that extra money in your vacation fund!
Create a vacation budget
Decide upfront how much you want to spend and be specific. Make a list of things you want to try—do you want to swim with sharks in Mexico, or will you need lift tickets for skiing? Estimate how much travel, hotels, meals, activities and souvenirs will cost for potential destinations and look for amusement park deals, family packages, and hotel discounts while you plan.
Pick the perfect time
Reflect on when the best time for your vacation will be. You’ll need to consider when you’re busiest with work, school schedules, and holidays. To save big on pricing, consider going somewhere in the off-season. If Hawaii is your dream destination, think about going in September or October when prices are lower, and there are fewer tourists. If you dream of skiing all day, try going in late February or early March when the snow is still falling, but hotels are emptier. Trips to Europe can be up to 50% cheaper in the winter, compared to the summer.
Go off the beaten path
Think about your dream vacation and pick a city or a country that isn’t considered “touristy.” All of your friends may be soaking up the rays in Cabo this winter, but you could save big by finding trip deals to Costa Rica. You might even have a more relaxing time by traveling regionally— pick an area near you with access to a stellar beach or a beautiful national park you’ve always wanted to visit.
Another way to save is to rethink traditional accommodations. Resorts may seem luxurious, but they often add in extra expenses along the way. Look into Bed and Breakfasts, VRBOs, or an Airbnb while you shop around.
Shop around for flights
There are so many tools out there to get you the cheapest flights! Google flights allows you to see an overview of flight prices by date and adjust search options to find the cheapest airports to fly in and out of. You can also set up price alerts and look at price timelines to check the best times to hit the “book now” button. You could also consider flying in the middle of the week to save some cash.
By saving early, making smart booking decisions and budgeting, you can still have a dream vacation without the financial stress. What money-saving strategies do you use when booking your getaways? Share in the comments!