Traveling can be incredibly expensive, especially if it’s a family vacation involving more than a short road trip to the nearest campground. A major problem with traveling expenses is that they are not consistent. Depending on the season, gas prices, and other related factors, you could vastly underestimate or overestimate your projected expenses for your next vacation if you don’t plan carefully.
In order to stretch your travel budget without sacrificing any fun, there are several useful strategies you should incorporate into your plans.
Will it be easy to save money without resorting to credit cards to cover some of your travel expenses? Of course not, but the benefits arguably outweigh the downsides. Here’s what you should do before your next family vacation:
Tips to Help You Pay Cash for Your Next Family Vacation
Create a Budget in Advance
Surprisingly few people actually set up and stick to a budget when it comes to travel planning. Instead, many of us find it easier to embrace the mindset of, “I’m on vacation, I’ll worry about it later” in order to focus on relaxing on our well-deserved breaks from work.
But this mentality can be detrimental to your long-term financial stability. Luckily, budgeting can be as simple as researching prices for transportation, accommodations, and food/beverages to figure out general estimates for each category, or you could book certain things as soon as you have enough cash to cover the costs.
Even if you don’t have much money to spare each month after your regular expenses, there are plenty of ways to save money in spite of a limited income. Don’t let the fantasy of a blissful, carefree vacation blind you from the financial realities of traveling. Set a budget months before you’re set to depart on your next adventure in order to keep costs low while you’re on the road or overseas.
Try Envelope Budgeting
Credit cards can be so tempting, especially when it comes to family vacations because you want to make the trip a memorable experience for everyone by ignoring any concerns about money along the way. To avoid the temptation to pay for everything on your credit cards, you could try saving money for your next vacation with the envelope method.
The envelope method is simple. Whenever you get paid, divvy the cash into different envelopes based on categories in your budget. Whatever cash remains unspent can be reallocated towards your vacation savings’ envelope.
This can be extremely motivating as the funds rack up the closer you get to your vacation departure date! After all, cash is psychologically proven to decrease your chances of impulsive spending. You really feel the loss of money when you spend it in its cash form, rather than swiping a credit card.
Contribute to a Spare Change Jar
Do you struggle with leaving change everywhere? In our credit-dominated society, it’s all too easy to disregard clunky change when we happen to pay with cash because it’s just so cumbersome to deal with. However, those few cents can really add up over time. That’s exactly why it’s so important to keep a spare change jar at home instead of tossing the leftover coins into some corner of your car, never to be seen again until your next car wash.
Similar to the envelope method of budgeting, a spare change jar is visually motivating. You can really see your progress over the course of several months. Will you be able to cover airfare with spare change? Likely not, but this is nevertheless a great way to trick yourself into saving more money in the weeks and months leading up to your family vacation.
Save with Acorns
If the idea of using cash all the time is simply too much effort, then you could still save money by using a debit card for your purchases and linking your account to the Acorns app. This useful financial savings software automatically rounds up your purchases and deposits those extra funds into your Acorns account. While it’s just a few cents here and there, this method of saving can really add up without you even noticing!
Best of all, Acorns deposits funds into investments, which can help you sustainably grow your vacation savings before your next trip.
Final Thoughts on Family Vacation Expenses
Few people enjoy paying for things with cash anymore, but the research-backed benefits of using cash instead of credit cards or loans cannot be ignored.
It’s all too easy to splurge when you’re on vacation with your family, but some careful budgeting, a dedication to cash-based savings methods, and a strong commitment to covering your expenses with the money you actually have will help you save quite a bit of money on your next family vacation.