How to Accurately Budget for Your Dream Vacation

The cost of your “dream vacation” can vary drastically from that of someone else’s. Some people may want to sit on the beach in Bali, while you may prefer to go to the new all british casino and have fun with friends. Depending on where you go and how long you want to stay, plus what activities you want to participate in, you could spend anywhere from $600 to $6,000.

The question is, how are you supposed to budget for your dream vacation if it seems like a distant goal? How will you know how much plane tickets are or how long you’ll be able to stay? Is it better to over-budget or under-budget?

Today, I want to talk about how you can budget precisely for a trip you’ll take in the upcoming months or maybe even next year. These tips will help you put away enough money to enjoy yourself without over-saving and living frugally prior to the vacation.

1. Conduct Research on Flights

Just because you want to go to Europe doesn’t mean you should automatically squirrel away a grand for the flight. Depending on what time of year you go, what sales are available, and which airline you choose, you could pay as little as $350 for a plane ride across the sea. However, that doesn’t mean you should under-budget in hopes that you’ll snag a deal. Always give yourself more than enough money to spend, just in case.

When you start actively saving for your dream trip, do some research on travel sites to see how much a plane ticket could realistically cost you. If possible, be flexible in your travel dates and season so that you can save as much as possible on your flight. Also, don’t just book the first affordable flight you see; use apps like Hopper to determine if the price will continue to go down.

2. Remember to Plan for Food While You Travel

You might think that you’ll spend as much money on food while you’re traveling as you do while you’re at home, but be honest: you’ll definitely drop more money on drinks, desserts, and fancy dinners while you’re on vacation. You should budget at least $100/day for food if you want to err on the side of caution while saving for your big trip. Granted, this number could change depending on where you’re traveling and how expensive their wares are.

3. Remember That You Won’t Book Things All at Once

If you determine that your trip to Australia is going to cost $3,000, don’t forget that you won’t drop three grand all at once. You’ll probably buy the plane ticket first, then book your hotels, and eventually spend money on excursions and food.

Therefore, you don’t need to budget for one deadline. Instead, you should budget for a few. Aim to have $1,000 saved six months before your trip, $1,000 more saved three months before, and another thousand right before you get on the plane. That way, you’ll have plenty of wiggle room in your bank account for early and late purchases.

4. Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Save

The easiest way to under-budget for your dream vacation is to rush into the trip before you’ve saved enough. If you think you can save the money in one month, give yourself two months of preparation. After all, you can’t account for every unexpected expense that will pop up before the vacation. You want to give yourself adequate time to save enough money (and then some), just in case.

When it comes to vacations, I often begin planning my spending months in advance, just to be safe. The sooner you start budgeting, and more thought you put into your savings, the better prepared you’ll be for the trip you’ve always dreamed of. Do your research now; you’ll thank yourself later.