How to Save for a Vacation: 20 Great Ways to Pay for Your Next Vacay

Need to save up for your next vacation? Summer is just around the corner, and we all want to leave our money worries at the door for a stress-free vacay. That means dusting off your piggy bank and starting to pad that trip fund. You don’t have to resort to drastic measures to save money. Whether you’re planning a tropical escape, big-city getaway, or road trip down the coast, all you need is a bit of smart vacation planning to make your future dream vacation a reality.

Table of Contents

1. Create a Budget and Start Saving Early

Creating a vacation budget is the first boost you can give your travel fund. How else will you know how much money you need to save?

Costs can add up quickly while you’re exploring the world, so it’s wise to do some research beforehand. Suppose you already know where your dream vacation is. In that case, you can start by doing a deep dive into your estimated expenses.

Your main expenses will be airfare, lodgings, transportation, attractions/activities, and food. Read up on your destination and determine how much each will likely cost you per day. Some expenses, like your airfare and specific attraction fees, will be one-time payments.

Pro-tip: Unexpected expenses are bound to crop up, so with that in mind, remember to pad your estimates for miscellaneous travel costs.

Once you’ve crunched the numbers on your vacation costs, you’ll have a rough idea of your budget. Divide that number by the time you have left before your vacation to figure out a weekly or monthly budget to get you where you need to be. 

Leaving you free to roam through jungles or snooze on the beach, with no money worries in sight.

2. Start a Vacation Fund Savings Account (and Don’t Touch It)

Have you ever heard the saying money is made to be spent?

While that may indeed be true, you certainly don’t want to spend your vacation money before the time is right: when it can be put to good use on your vacation.

But when it’s just sitting in a checking account at your local bank, it can be easy to siphon off a few dollars here or there to pay for other necessities or even impulse purchases.

Avoid needless temptations and set your money aside where you won’t touch it. 

A separate bank account will ensure your money is there when your vacation finally rolls around. And if you use a high-yield savings account, it can also help you make more money to put toward your vacation. 

Several savings accounts allow you to set up goals, so you can save for multiple reasons while earning money on the cash you’ve saved up.

3. Set Up Automatic Transfers for More Vacation Savings

So, you’ve set up a dedicated savings account for your vacation. Now, fund it with automatic transfers to help you meet your weekly or monthly savings goals.

Decide when you want the auto-transfers set up—end of each month, every paycheck, etc.—and make sure they match your savings goal.

If your regular income is a little short, try channeling any extra money that comes your way into this account. Whether it’s birthday money or rounding up your purchases to the nearest dollar, deposit it into your travel bank account.

Every little bit helps, and you’ll be surprised how quickly your vacation savings account can grow using this method.

4. Fine Tune Your Grocery Budget  

Groceries eat up a considerable portion of your spending, so cutting down on your monthly food budget is the perfect way to trim the fat. Literally.

Plan out each week’s meals and list the food you’ll need. Plan out your snacks too. Try cutting out extras like soda, chips, candy, and other expensive snacks. Or grab them on sale. After the holidays is perfect for stocking up on holiday-themed candy and other treats.

Additionally, shop items in season so they’ll be less expensive, and look for creative ways to dress up old staples. How about turning your grilled cheese into a tuna melt? Inexpensive ingredients with a tasty twist.

More smart ways to save:

  • Clip coupons
  • Use a rewards card to earn big on groceries
  • Join stores’ loyalty programs 
  • Buy on sale and in bulk
  • Go generic over name brand
  • Use a savings app (check out #14. Use Cashback Apps)

5. Make Your Own Lattes

This money-saving strategy doesn’t seem like much at first glance. Until you look again and realize just how much money you may be spending on your daily coffee run. 

We’ve all been there. Heading into work and making a quick stop at Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, or wherever else you get your coffee fix so you can make it through the day. Or, at the very least, through the morning.

But trust us when we say that morning coffee is slowly eating away at your bank account and leaving a gaping hole behind. 

Your standard cup of coffee runs $2.70, while your average latte claims $4.16 per cup. If you drink just three times a week, that’s anywhere from $32 – $50 a month. That kind of cash could pay for a day’s worth of food on vacation or a fun excursion.

If you choose to brew at home instead, you’re looking at just cents per cup, which means infinitely less money spent and lots more money saved.

6. Eat at Home to Save Money

Saving money doesn’t get much easier than one simple change: eating in instead of dining out.

Okay, so brewing your coffee at home is likely a more effortless adjustment than making every meal at home. Still, it’s a small change with unbelievable results.

Eating out can be three to five times more expensive than cooking at home. And while dining out can be a fantastic way to try new foods, let’s face it—you’re paying for the service, convenience, and ambiance more than anything else.

So, if you want to squeeze out some extra money to put toward your vacation savings, look to cut back on happy hour drinks and restaurant meals.

Remember, it’s a temporary adjustment, not forever. And just think of the fantastic foods you’ll get a chance to dine on during your upcoming vacation if you save this restaurant money now.

7. Cancel the Gym Membership

When contemplating how to save for a vacation, try going over your spending with a fine-toothed comb to see just what’s siphoning away all your money. And unless you’re the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, or a bodybuilder, you might want to consider bidding farewell to your local gym. 

Based on numbers from 2021, the average gym membership costs around $38 a month and around $480 a year. So, if you want an easy way to save money, quit the expensive machines and equipment and start planning at-home workouts.

While that might seem like more work, you don’t even have to go it alone. You can find an endless catalog of workout videos on YouTube that don’t require any fancy equipment to get going. 

You may miss the gym for a few months, but don’t worry. We’re pretty sure those savings will take the sting out of this temporary goodbye.

8. Reconsider Your Subscriptions

You may have thought brewing your own coffee and planning out your grocery runs was as penny-pinching as it gets. 

But when you’re really trying to save money for a vacation, anything goes, and it may be high time to start counting your dollars and change and cutting out everything but the necessities

In that case, prepare to say some hard goodbyes to your online subscriptions, streaming services, and any other discretionary purchases that are eating up your budget.

This may hurt, but it’ll be worth it, in the long run, to save money on these monthly purchases. And when you come back from your well-deserved vacation, all of your subscriptions and streaming shows will be waiting for you, with your next episodes cued up and ready to go.

9. Lock-In Travel Dates

Don’t worry; you’re not making your reservations just yet. 

Locking in your travel dates simply means deciding when you’re heading out on your big trip. With your departure date chosen, you can nail down more specific costs for your airfare, lodgings, and rental cars if needed.

Set aside some free time to comb through a few search engines for these main expenses. You can also look into vacation package deals to see if you can score any discounts on your travel.

Pro-Tip: If you find an incredible deal—and have the funds to pay for it—don’t wait to book. 

Prices constantly fluctuate, but the closer you get to your travel dates, the less likely a deal will emerge. So, using some of your vacation budget to grab a great deal will be money well spent. 

You can also sign up for a service like Next Vacay, which customizes deals to your location and sends flights with hundreds of dollars in savings to your inbox. That way, you can take advantage immediately!

Of course, that’s only if the perfect deal comes along. Again, locking in your travel dates isn’t about making your reservations right away. It will simply help confirm you’ve made the right vacation savings plans and you’re prepared for the money-saving journey ahead.

10. Use Cash Back Rewards Credit Cards

Earning extra cash while you spend money? 

Sounds too good to be true.

Thankfully for us, not everything that sounds too good to be true actually is! In this case, you really can earn while spending money. 

If you want to put some extra cash in your travel budget ASAP, look into getting a cashback reward credit card

Not only are they simple and easy to use, but they’re also flexible. 

Some cards offer flat rates on purchases, while others provide big-time rewards in select categories and smaller rewards for others. For example, suppose you spend a lot on dining out, grocery shopping, or gas. In that case, wouldn’t it be nice to maximize your rewards for everyday purchases in that area?

Charge purchases to your credit card and earn rewards, then stash those rewards away in your vacation fund.

11. Get a Travel Rewards Credit Card

Another credit card option for saving money is a travel rewards credit card. 

These cards are a bit more complicated to use but can help you save astronomically on travel expenses.

With a travel rewards credit card, you earn points/miles on each purchase to use on future travel. Before you get too excited, we should mention that your travel rewards card is unlikely to pay for your vacation in full. But it can cut the cost of your airfare or lodgings, which are undoubtedly the most expensive part of your travel budget.

As with cashback rewards cards, different travel cards may offer higher points/miles in specific categories, helping you earn more on your spending. Most cards also offer amazing sign-up bonuses, so check if you can take advantage of those to earn big.

Pro-tip: Don’t go into credit card debt to earn sign-up bonus points/miles. Take stock of your financial situation to determine if a travel rewards credit card is right for you.

12. Have a Garage Sale 

Looking to clear up some space and make a bit of money too? 

Have a yard sale.

If you’ve got enough stuff lying around, it may be time to slap some price tags on old toys, unused books, heck, even old CDs, and put them out on the lawn. Vintage items can fetch a good price, whether it’s old sports cards, furniture, fashion accessories, you name it. Even books worth a few cents add up if you’re selling stacks of them. 

Take some spare time to go through your stuff, see what you have and could do without, and start jotting down prices.

13. Sell on eBay or Marketplace 

Sometimes, a garage sale might not be the best option. For one thing, it’s time-consuming, or perhaps you don’t live in an area with a lot of traffic. In that case, you can look into selling your stuff on eBay or Marketplace. 

Have old gaming systems you’re no longer using? Trying to sell big pieces of furniture or old knick-knacks for a reasonable price? Upload them to your preferred e-commerce site, and watch the offers roll in.

Then pocket that extra cash for your vacation!

14. Use Cashback Apps

Cashback apps essentially optimize your everyday purchases.

Like cashback and rewards cards, these apps help you earn money and points. However, with cards, you sometimes run the risk of spending a bit more than you usually would to earn sign-up bonuses.

In contrast, cashback apps help you capitalize on purchases you already planned to make.

Lots of these apps are passive. So, once you’ve set them up, they’ll quietly do their thing in the background. If you do a lot of your shopping online, some offer web portals through which you can make your purchases. Others require you to upload pictures of your receipts to earn your rewards.

To truly capitalize on your purchases and maximize savings as quickly as possible, you may even consider using multiple cashback apps at once. 

Between Chrome browser extensions, apps that link to your card spending, and receipt-based apps, you’re bound to save money every month and a little extra for your vacation.

15. Monetize Your Skillset

If you find that your regular income isn’t enough to cover the vacation savings plan you’ve devised, you have two options:

  1. Push back your travel dates to have more time to save money.
  2. Get a side hustle and create another source of income.

Now, you might not think that your current hobbies or skills can make a lot of money, but getting rich isn’t the point. Instead, saving money for your vacation is the primary goal. And you can capitalize on your talents to do what you love and earn a bit extra.

Get creative and think about what you’re good at and enjoy doing. 

Love to bake? Try selling your pastries and yummy goodies in your neighborhood or within driving distance. Know your way around the written word? Think about saving for a vacation by freelance writing on blog posts, company websites, you name it. Have hands that work miracles with crafts or wood? Sell your creations on creative websites like Etsy.

A little extra income can go a long way toward achieving the vacation of your dreams.

16. Drive for a Food Delivery or Ride-Share Service

If turning your hobbies into income earners isn’t a good fit, you don’t have to toss out your carefully crafted how-to-save-for-a-vacation plans just yet.

Instead, consider taking up driving for food delivery or ride-sharing services in your free time.

You likely utilize these services all the time, getting food delivered from your favorite restaurants or requesting a driver to take you home after a fun night out. 

Rather than hanging out in the backseat, try slipping behind the wheel and earning cash as you ferry food and people to and fro. This kind of job is especially perfect if you find yourself with a few hours to kill here and there and want to make the most of some downtime.

While it may not be the most glamorous job, you can keep yourself going knowing that every trip you take now will fund that ultimate future trip.

17. Get a Part-Time Job

Of course, the extra income earner to outshine all others, a part-time job can help you quickly eat up ground towards your monthly savings goal.

If your full-time job covers all your other expenses, consider taking on part-time work exclusively for your next trip. Babysitting, dog walking, bartending—countless jobs have part-time positions available that you can take advantage of in a pinch.

Provided you have the time to dedicate to a whole other source of income, this is likely one of the quickest ways to reach your savings goal in a short period. 

18. Rent Out Your Home

Most avid travelers have used Airbnb at one point or another in their travels and taken advantage of a cozy room, guesthouse, or an entire place. 

If you’re looking for the perfect answer to the question of how to save for a vacation, think about renting out your home to offset the costs of your next trip.

While you’re off spending money at your destination, you can be making money at home by lending it out to other eager travelers. Depending on where you live and the demand in the area, you likely won’t be able to cover the cost of your travel altogether. Still, you can take a not-insignificant chunk out of your travel expenses. Even making enough to cover your lodgings would be huge.

And if you need ways to save even more, think about renting out a room or your entire house for a little while before your trip. Stay with friends and family, split your rent earnings with them, and then pocket the rest to save for vacation.

19. Set Aside Part of Your Tax Return or Work Bonus

Nobody loves filing their taxes, but one part of tax season has people grinning from year to year: tax returns. 

If you’re in for a good amount of change with your tax return and don’t already have plans to pay off some significant debt, plan not to touch a single cent. Instead, take your tax return in its entirety and put it away in your vacation savings fund.

Is tax season still a ways off?

No worries. Do the same thing if you’re in for a bonus at work. Take that money aside and put it away as more cash for your next vacation.

20. Let Next Vacay Find You the Cheapest Airfare

Vacations aren’t cheap. With airfare, public transportation, and accommodations clamoring for all your hard-earned money, you’ll find yourself spending it faster than you can blink. 

So, what’s the secret to saving for vacation? 

One of the top money-saving methods at your disposal is finding great deals on your travel, and that’s where Next Vacay comes in.

With flight deals to destinations all over the world, Next Vacay can save you hundreds on domestic flights and even help you save thousands of dollars on international travel. It’s as simple as entering your email, choosing your home airport, and signing up. 

Our team does all the hard stuff and sends quality, affordable deals straight to your inbox. So, whether your next vacation is a trip to the Maldives or a vacay in the City of Angels, you can save big on airfare. And maybe even put your savings to good use on another future trip. Because why should your vacations be limited to one per year? 

Continue saving for future adventures while traveling the globe with Next Vacay!

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