According to recent studies, more workers are foregoing vacations in lieu of working additional hours. Still, there are companies out there, particularly ones dealing in information technology, requiring employees to take a mandatory minimum of seven to nine days off. In these cases, employees have no other choice but to leave their work at the office. This also means plenty of time to plan for a vacation. Whether a couple of days journey to attractions around the state or a lengthy trip across the country or globe, budgeting for vacations is a necessity. Without a vacation budget, costs can quickly spin out of control, leaving you in debt and worrying about each dollar while you are trying to relax. Here are some items to consider when budgeting for a vacation.
The Earlier the Better
So you’ve been monitoring your budget for a while now and have a little extra to spend. It’s important to plan your spending wisely. Planning out your holiday ahead of time does three things. First, it allows you to shop around for the best transportation deals, research the nicest accommodations and best dining venues within your budget, and plan an itinerary that benefits all members of your family. Second, planning several weeks or months in advance gives you an opportunity to set up a manageable payment schedule, allowing you to avoid bulk payments at the time of your trip. Third, establishing your plan well in advance provides a cushion should any unforeseen circumstances arise, such as a change in hotel stay or a rise in ticket prices for a particular attraction.
There are several expenses to include when preparing your vacation budget.
- Transportation — If flying, factor in total airfare plus charges for over-sized or extra luggage check-ins. Also add in charges incurred for transportation to and from the airport, fees for parking if driving yourself, and the amount needed for a rental car or public transportation when you reach your destination. If your holiday is a driving one, determine if you will use your own car or rent one. If using your own, include expenses needed to prep your vehicle for a long trip, such as an oil change, new tires, etc. In both situations, make sure enough money is added for variation in fuel costs for your points of destination.
- Accommodations— If you plan ahead, you should already know the base pay for your hotel, campground, or rental home/apartment. However, you also need to include any local taxes applied to the final bill. Contact the place you are staying to get an estimate of those expenses. Add money into your budget for extra amenities offered by the place you stay.
- Dining — Are you going to eat all your meals out? Does the place you’re staying offer any free dining options, or allow you to cook food in your room? These are factors to consider when figuring your dining expenses. If you decide to eat your meals out, consider having your big meal during the midday when restaurants offer items from their dinner menu at lower prices. If you go this route, include money for smaller breakfasts, dinners, and snacks throughout the day.
- Attractions — Most attractions offer price information on their websites; however, it’s best to contact them to ensure their fees haven’t or will change by the time you arrive. Make sure you factor in any costs for parking and potential souvenirs you may want to purchase.
- Other Expenses — Travel insurance, toiletries, cash for emergency car repairs or medical bills — these are additional expenses to consider when budgeting out your vacation. Also look into an extra buffer of cash in case you decide to extend your holiday or discover an attraction or restaurant you’ve heard much about and want to see on your own.