Oftentimes, when we (and the internet) talk about vacation, we’re referring to big, expensive trips across the country or overseas. Yes, it’s important to talk about making those trips possible, but what about the smaller vacations we take throughout the year? It’s also necessary to talk about those so they don’t break our budget.
Short trips, like taking a long weekend to the woods, can seem easy and inexpensive. Because of this, you might not financially plan or prepare for them ahead of time. And then you get back to reality only to notice that you’re already over budget for the month. So you end up stressed out from the trip that was supposed to be fun. Let’s plan ahead and prevent potential debt and anxiety.
Plan ahead, if you can
Like I said last week, it’s important to plan ahead and get a good handle on what is coming up in terms of travel. If you know what’s on the books, you can have a better idea of how much money you need to save. I personally like to set money aside every month to use for any and all future travel. Sometimes, this is for travel I know is coming up, but other times I end up using it to fly home at the last minute, or spend a much-needed weekend out of the city. I really love the freedom that this allows me, always knowing I have money available to me if I want to go somewhere fun. I hold this money sacred and never use it for anything other than travel, and it sits in a special travel savings account. Do you need one of those accounts? How much would you have to save each month to be covered?
When we’re out of our normal daily routine, it’s easy to be extravagant and overspend. But it doesn’t have to be that way! If you’re careful, you can try to stay within your normal monthly budget, even when you’re out of town. Set a spending limit for the trip, and try to stick to it. A few years ago, I took a trip to the beach in Delaware with some friends. I didn’t have travel savings at the time, so I wanted to stay within my normal monthly budget. I brought my own snacks and alcohol for our time in the car and on the beach, and then I was careful with what I ordered when we went out. I ended up staying under the budget I had set for myself, and that made the trip even better!
Make up for it the rest of the month
If you weren’t able to save up for your trip, you might have to compensate for it throughout the rest of the month. If you typically budget to spend $800 a month (after fixed expenses), but you spent $300 on your weekend trip, you’ve already spent nearly half of your monthly budget. Rather than overdraft, or add to your debt, you can cut back for the rest of the month. Bring your lunch to work everyday and cook dinner at home every night. If you have plans with friends, get a soda water at the bar, or have your friend over for a cheap bottle of wine instead. Sometimes, in order to make up for overspending, we need to shake up our normal routine and cut back.
Certified Financial Education Instructor. Feminist and financial coach for women. Founder of Money Circle.