If you’d like to have a debt free vacation, now is the time to begin planning for it. It isn’t easy to do, but I’m going to show you my 6 tips to a debt-free vacation.
In the summer of 2015, my family took a road trip to the West Coast of Canada. This is a 24- hour drive for us. We paid cash for the entire trip. Today, I want to tell you a little bit about how we did it.
First, let’s deal with some myths:
Myth #1: It’s not possible to pay cash for a vacation unless you are very wealthy
This is simply not true. Obviously, if you are on a budget, you will have to make realistic adjustments to what your vacation can be. Maybe, you cannot afford to go to Hawaii or fly your entire family to Florida. Perhaps, you can afford to make a road trip to the next state or province. Maybe you can afford to travel several states.
Myth #2: But it’s going to take us YEARS to save up
Again, this isn’t a truth, either. If you really want a vacation, there are ways to save up quickly. Many of those ways will require some sacrifice on your part. It may require being willing to cut out eating out or eating out less. It may require making your own coffee for a while.
6 Tips to a Debt-Free Vacation
#1: Decide where you are going to go
Once you’ve decided where to go, it’s time to figure out the rough cost of your desired vacation. For example, if you are driving, how far is it? You can then figure out how many tanks of fuel it will take. Always add extra. If you are staying in a hotel, try to pre-book as much as possible so that you can know your approximate cost. Same thing with camping. Pre-plan at least some of the activities and find out the cost of those activities.
#2: Decide when you are going to go
Once you’ve decided where to go, decide on the date you would like to go. It’s best to decide far in advance, so you will have time to save up your money. Simply take the above number and divide by the number of months before you are leaving. Each month you should take that money to be saved and place it in a special savings account. It is always wise to add a little extra to your total. You can always keep the leftover cash for next year!
#3: Be willing to compromise
When we went on our vacation, we chose not to eat in restaurants very much. When we did, we ate at places like Subway, which is significantly cheaper for our family, than say Boston Pizza. Instead, we brought a fair bit of food from home and stocked up at grocery stores along the way. Along those same lines, we didn’t do every single activity we might have liked because that would have put us out of our budget. Lastly, we brought our camping gear so we could camp for a couple of nights. This is also a way to save money.
#4: Sell stuff
If you are still a little short on money even after doing all the suggested things above, take the time to do some de-cluttering and list some of your unused items online. There are plenty of Facebook groups and online groups for resale these days.
#5: Save Change
I have saved loonies and toonies, ($1 and $2 coins) as well as $5 bills at times. This is kind of a forced savings plan and works great to get a little more money saved up.
#6: You don’t need a big vacation every year
We have chosen not to take big vacations each year. What has worked for us, instead, is to go to our favorite family camp for 5 days each year. We get encouraged in our walk with Christ, we unplug, and it’s fairly inexpensive.
When You Get There
Don’t do a lot of shopping
If your budget is tight, I suggest not to do any or very little shopping. Obviously, if this is something that is important to you, then, by all means, do it. However, figure it into your budget ahead of time. Then stick to your budget!
Now I want to take a moment to mention the kind of freedom that comes with a paid for vacation. When you do a vacation on credit, it will follow you home. That taints the experience for the adult because they know that at the end of it all, they will still have to figure out how to pay for it.
Also, I encourage you to remember that even when you can’t afford to go on an actual vacation, there are so many options for local, cheap attractions. When our children were younger, we did this one year. We spent most of our time at home, took the rest of the week off work, and did day trips.
Those are some of the ways that we pay cash for our vacations. How about you? Do you have some good tips to share?
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