After a nice vacation, you may return with photos, souvenirs, lifelong memories, and maybe even a tan. The one thing you don’t want to return with is debt. Nothing can zap the joy out of vacation like the realization that you can’t afford it and the financial stress you face when you return.
While a vacation is a break from work, it takes a lot of time, effort, and planning to travel affordably. You may have to check multiple airlines and travel sites to find the best deals. Spur-of-the-moment trips aren’t the best option if your travel budget is tight. If possible, plan your trip in advance so you have plenty of time to save and can vacation the way your heart desires.
Will you need to book a flight, or will you drive to your destination?
Will you need to stay in a hotel or rental property? Which is cheaper? Do you have family or friends you could stay with instead?
Are you traveling with others? Can you split the cost of transportation, lodging, and food?
How many days will you be traveling, and how many meals will you need to buy? Is it possible for you to cook your own food? Will you buy snacks on the road, or can you bring them from home?
What activities and excursions do you have planned?
Creating a Vacation Budget
Consider the full scope of your vacation, and put a price tag on everything—travel, lodging, souvenirs, meals, entertainment, etc. After estimating the total trip cost, determine how many months there are until your travel date. Divide the trip cost by that number to figure out how much money you need to save each month to go on the trip debt-free.
For example, if you estimate that your total trip cost is $2,400, and you have six months until you want to take your trip, you will need to save $400 per month. If that’s not something you can do, consider waiting longer to take the trip so that you have more time to save. Or scale down your travel plans.
Saving for Your Vacation
Open a new savings account earmarked specifically for travel, and stay consistent with depositing your weekly or monthly savings amount into the account.
The best way to ensure that you reach your travel savings goal is to save automatically. Have a portion of your paycheck automatically deposited into your travel savings account every time you are paid. Your human resources manager may be able to directly deposit your travel savings amount into your savings account through payroll. If that isn’t an option, set up regularly scheduled transfers from your checking account to your savings account. You can do this using the internal transfers feature in the Bank OZK mobile banking app.*
Bank OZK’s My Change Keeper** offers several ways that you can accelerate your savings simply by making everyday purchases on your debit card.
Remember, the best way to avoid the burden of debt after a vacation is to resist the urge to take a trip you can’t afford. If you are saving for a big trip and it’s going to be a while before you can take it, try to budget for a smaller trip, like a weekend away, that you can take in the meantime.
Everyone deserves a break from work and the responsibilities of life—just make sure it is a break you can afford.
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**Enrollment required for My Change Keeper. Terms and conditions apply.