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Need a vacation? 5 tips to save for your next adventure

April 13, 2022 • 4 min read

What we'll cover

  • How to create a vacation budget

  • Setting savings goals and ways to earn money

  • When to consider investing for your vacation

Whether you’re a camper, theme park enthusiast or international wanderer, there is nothing quite like getting away for a vacation. Separating yourself from the stresses of daily life can give you the reset you need and the adventure you crave.

But we all know taking a vacation isn’t as simple as packing up and leaving whenever you want. And while vacations seem to fly by in an instant, the planning and (most importantly) saving for these breaks can feel like they take an eternity. Saving is an essential piece of preparation, but that doesn’t mean it has to take forever. With a few financial hacks and creative saving, you can get to your next trip a little ahead of schedule.

Create a vacation budget

Before you start working to speed up your saving, start with the basics. Planning ahead can help you avoid surprise expenses. Build a budget and stick to it when you book and while you’re away.

Consider all the costs associated with your trip, like:

 • Airfare

 • Lodging ( hotel, rental home, hostel )

 • Transportation (taxis, rental cars, trains, buses)

 • Food and drink

 • Entertainment (museums, tours, live shows)

 • Shopping

Stay ahead of any surprise costs by adding several hundreds of dollars (at least) on top of your estimated expenses in each category. This not only gives you a little wiggle room if your budgeting is off, but it could also save you from financial catastrophe in case of an unexpected expense.

Set a savings goal

Once you’ve got a picture of how much you can expect to spend, you can break the total up into increments (monthly or weekly) to make saving more digestible. Challenging yourself to sock away for vacation can be difficult, so determine a realistic amount you can work into your budget on a weekly, or monthly basis.

Automate your savings

Consciously moving money from your checking account into a vacation savings account is easier said than done sometimes. You may forget to keep up with your established cadence or talk yourself out of it when the time comes.

Buckets, a feature of Ally Bank’s Online Savings Account , allow you to make automated contributions to different savings goals like home, vacations and emergencies to help you stay on track and keep moving toward your financial goals. Set up automatic recurring transfers so you can sit back and watch your savings grow!

Look for more ways to save

Beyond putting money aside each month, there are other ways you can financially prepare for an upcoming trip. That might mean eating out less, canceling nonessential subscriptions, skipping your daily coffee run or buying certain products in bulk to reduce your monthly spending. Take it a step further with a “splurge jar” to drop in the cash saved. (Then put those extra dollars in your vacation fund.)

Explore new ways to earn

If saving isn’t getting you to your vacation goals fast enough, finding new sources of income could be the answer. Consider taking on a side gig to fund your goal. Seasonal part-time work, online ventures, delivery services, rideshares, and even crafting can help you pull in extra income when it’s convenient for you.

And don’t forget about any clothes or household items you have and don’t use anymore — chances are, these could find a new home. If the thought of a yard sale gives you anxiety, there are numerous websites and apps that offer the opportunity to safely and quickly sell pre-owned items.

Invest your vacation savings

Depending on how far out your planned vacation is, you may be able to use short-term investments to get you closer to your goals. If you have at least six months before travel, investing savings can earn you interest and grow your trip budget even faster. Some short-term instruments such as certificates of deposit (CDs) or money market accounts can help grow your money with little risk. Meanwhile, some short-term securities are designed to be more liquid and accessible than other long-term investment vehicles.

Set aside a portion of your tax refund or bonus check

Receiving a chunk of change after taxes or as a performance bonus can be a wonderful surprise, and often people are ready to run out and buy that item they’ve had their eye on. But before you run off to make that splurge, consider putting some aside for your trip.

Transferring your bonus cash to your savings account vacation bucket can put that money out of sight and out of mind — until you are on your trip when you’ll be excited about having the extra cash.

Bon voyage!

Waiting for vacation while you save up can make it feel like time is crawling. Planning ahead, setting a budget and finding new ways to save can help you go where you want to go and do what you want to do even sooner.

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