How to Afford a Vacation You Will Remember For a Lifetime
Wouldn’t it be amazing to go on a vacation without worrying about the lack of commas in our bank account?
Too bad that’s never, ever how we 20-somethings travel.
After scraping change together for your Spirit plane ticket, pay your part of the Airbnb and buy cheap fast food, there’s honestly not much left for real fun.
You thought it would be cool to just wing it but there’s no good Groupon deals and showing up to the club at 9:30 p.m. to make guest lists are getting tired.
So here you are in a beautiful place but unable to fully enjoy it because your coins are tight.
You think to yourself “Why did I agree to this trip,” pulling out the credit card once again. You even avoid checking your bank account because you just don’t want to see the damage.
Your Snapchat stories are lit though.
WHY DO WE DO THIS?
So many of us are living it up on trips without a dime to our name when we get back from the vacation.
The truth is that traveling isn’t a bad thing but these brokecations are keeping you stuck in the same paycheck to paycheck pattern.
And the sad part is that the majority of us are doing it.
The Amazing Good News for the Broke & Traveled
Most old white money mavericks would tell you that if you want to get control of your money then you need to cut out traveling completely.
But considering that 6 out 10 youngins rather spend their money on travel vs. material things show that we truly value our vacations.
The good news is that means you don’t have to cut out traveling altogether.
The bad (actually this is good too) news is that you can’t go to everybody’s Stella Got Her Groove Back trips.
Oh, and while I’ve got you here – it’s time to let go of Spring Breaks, ya’ll. If you are a full fledged, grown, rent-paying adult (minus my teachers), there is no reason you should still be going to South Padre. Let it goooo, fam.
So reality is that even with debt you can enjoy a couple well-thought out trips. Just don’t get crazy.
9 Travel Hacks to Help You Spend Less (But Enjoy More)
Although I’m still rocking hard on my debt-free journey, I budgeted about four trips that I absolutely don’t regret including a cruise, Chicago, Austin and Seattle.
Breaking bad money habits isn’t about living a miserable life, it’s about creating boundaries and discipline for yourself.
Breaking bad money habits is about creating boundaries and discipline. Click To TweetSo with a million hours of research and some trial and error, here are my top nine hacks for planning a vacation you won’t forget:
#1. Say the magic word
Most of us don’t budget period, let alone budget for a vacation. But you should be planning your costs way ahead of your actual trip to keep control of your spending.
Not having a budget is like driving to a destination without your GPS. You might get to your destination out of luck and the grace of God but it will take you much longer. You will get lost, be stressed and want to just turn around.
Use a budget to know exactly how much you have to work with in case you overspend a little. Sit down and make one before your book this trip. PROMISE ME.
#2. Travel to places that friends live
From continuing education to new jobs, someone is always moving away. If you’re looking for a getaway but want to dodge hotel costs look for friends who live in places you have always wanted to visit and crash their couches.
**Disclaimer: Only do this if you actually have a relationship with the person. I can’t tell you how annoying it is for someone to hit me up about staying with me in Vegas when I literally talked to them 13 years ago in gym class. It’s rude. Stop doing that.
On the flip side my friends stay in pretty awesome cities like Austin, D.C., Chicago and Atlanta. Staying with them has definitely been a life saver when I need a quick getaway.
#3. Wait until the last minute
I am the queen of last minute traveling. First and foremost, the best days to book a flight are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and sometimes Saturdays. I always play with the prices when it comes to cheaper airlines like Frontier, Spirit or even American because I know the price will come down. My only advice is not to wait TOO long. I usually watch until I’m about 2-3 weeks out on my trip.
*Bonus tip: If you are looking to get a cheaper airline, go to the airport and buy the ticket at the counter. Their prices are usually $30-$40 cheaper then what they advertise online.
#4. Pick places with long layovers
So my goal is to go to South Africa as my debt-free gift to myself when this is all said and done. Although it’s going to take four years of course, I have to began playing around with prices. When looking at flights, I noticed that the cheapest ones had crazy long layovers in different cities. I absolutely hate layovers but thought about how cool it would be to double-dip into another city or country during my trip to South Africa.
Google flights is my go-to. For example, I looked up a flight to Cape Town and one of the cheapest options offered a 13 hour layover in Atlanta.
Now usually that would sound awful but if you want to travel internationally it could be a great way to kill two birds with one stone. You can also enter dates you want to travel and Google flights will give you a price estimate for major cities all over the world. I randomly typed in dates for July 7-July 16:
London is the cheapest (due to the ones who must not be named) but it still shows a variety of options to choose from.
People are sleeeep on all-inclusives. Instead of trying to take care of your adventure piece by piece, look into a cruise or hotel all-inclusive that provides everything. This April, I took a cruise to Cozumel and it was probably the best vacation I have ever been on. It was affordable and I was able to pay for the trip in increments which helped me balance my budget each month. Even when we landed in Cozumel, we chose to do an all-inclusive beach that included all-you-can eat food and drink and access to a lot of cool activities. Try Hotel.com for resorts that have all-inclusive options.
#6. Plan a photoshoot
If you are anything like my friends, you stay ready for a photo shoot, anytime. Anywhere. For a fun and free outing, research a place with cool murals or backgrounds that you could take photos with. I usually Google “cool places in (city)” or “most instagrammed place in (city).”
#7. Plan a group cooking night
When traveling, food can rack up pretty fast. A fun way to cut costs but still enjoy is to have a family-style cooking night with the crew. This is especially great if you are staying in an Airbnb. Pick a theme like Mexican or Italian and have each person make a dish. It’s so easy to spend a lot of money at expensive restaurants in touristy parts of the city so this is a great way to dodge that.
#8. Travel off season and after holidays
Off-seasons and after holidays are the cheapest time to travel. Based off the interwebs, here is a list of suggested places to go:
Winter – December – February: New York City,and Atlanta are big during this time for obvious reasons (BURR). But because it’s cold there are great discounts on attractions and experiences around the city. Also, surprisingly Honolulu is cheap during this time as people are settling down from holidays.
Spring – March – May: Alaska, Chicago and Washington D.C. are all recovering from harsh winters but have not been greeted by summer yet. This is the perfect time to travel for a dip in hotel prices.
Summer – June – August: Beijing and Sydney might not be a choice for travelers looking for hot weather but it’s the perfect time to maximize on low rates. You won’t be freezing like a popscicle but plan to bring a jacket.
Fall – September – November: Orlando and Jamaica are great because the kids are back in school so travel has slowed down to destinations like Disney World and the beach. In addition, Cape Town and Las Vegas also starts to slow down in November which may be a great time for hotel rates.
#9. Use a CityPASS
This thing is sooo legit. If you are traveling to one of the cities that CityPASS partners with, I would definitely use it. A CityPASS bundles tourist attractions together for one price that allows you to visit a variety of popular places around the city. You’re not only saving money but are able to get out and have experiences that you may not have been able to afford before. I am for sure going to use one in Seattle.
Travel Smarter, Be Happy
Securing the bag has nothing to do with money and everything to do with the freedom to be able to live the life you dream.
While you are making the right decisions toward your money goals, carefully planned travel trips mean so much more when you know you aren’t breaking the bank to enjoy them.
Just imagine: waking up to the sounds of the beach, a mimosa by your bedside and peace in your heart because you’re still taking care of your ish.
Try some of these hacks and you wills till be able to create memories that will last a life time.