Vacations can be expensive if you don’t take the right steps. Therefore, make sure you plan and budget them correctly, so they don’t break the bank.
Did you know that just planning a vacation can already reduce stress and boost positive emotions? In fact, it can make you happier than the vacation. Yup, that’s right, even before you’ve gone you can already have some really big benefits. Of course, you still need to go in order to reap them. It is the anticipation that creates the benefits.
And so, if you do it correctly you can gain some serious benefits from planning out your holiday. The question is, how do you do that? This is a pertinent question, particularly for budgeting. After all, that is where the stress of the holiday is most likely to pile up both beforehand and during the actual trip.
In this article, we’ll explore the answer to that question.
Particularly for flights and some hotels, if you book far enough ahead you’ll get some great price reductions. So take advantage of that. Start exploring your options a long time ahead. This will make it far more likely that you’re going to find good deals. Personally, I’ll always start with a run on Skyscanner to find out prices of flights to different places.
Also, if you plan enough ahead, you’ve got more flexibility, which will mean that if a certain deal is only available for some days, then you’re in a better position to shift your days so as to take advantage of it.
What’s more, as you’re stretching out that planning phase, you’re going to get a lot more enjoyment from it. That’s win, as far as we’re concerned.
Reverse engineer it
Abstract your holiday. What actually is your dream holiday? Is it, long strolls down the beach with the opportunity to go see exotic sites? Would you rather go hiking for a week? Is it good food with your best friends that you’re after?
You should do this long before you actually start looking around because otherwise your vacation might end up a bit like a shopping trip, where you needed one thing and came back with 12 others and a blown budget instead.
The more clearly you have your dream articulated and what you want to do listed out, the less likely you’ll get distracted by ‘deals’.
Also note, if there are more people in your family, they’ll appreciate it if you ask them for their wish list for the best holiday as well. Ask them to spend some time on it and to list them from most to least important. Note that whatever they wrote up shouldn’t be back-of-the-napkin kind of stuff. Sure, it doesn’t need to be a text worthy of writing services, but it should still encapsulate what people want. In that way, even if you can’t meet the specific request, you can still satisfy the overall desire.
That way you’ll be more likely to satisfy everybody’s wants and make for a happier family.
Find places that meet your demands and the prices
Once you have those lists, you can start looking at what places meet those specifications and how much they cost. There are a lot of good strategies. You can look for yourself, but don’t overlook forums and groups. Often, if you put up your specifications in these groups, they’ll come up with ideas for you that you might not even have considered.
These are also good places to get some basic ideas of how much prices will be.
Also, ask your friends. You might be able to talk some of your best friends into joining you on the trip. Maybe you can share a cabin together, for example. That will drastically cut costs for everybody and leave you more of your budget for the fun stuff.
Budget the stuff you need
You have to eat. You have to find somewhere to sleep. You have to get wherever you’re going. These things will form a part of your costs. So work them out for your budget. How much will the basic stuff cost you?
Write it all down, consider strategies that you can use to reduce some aspects (can you rent a place with a kitchen and cook at least once a day yourselves?), multiply daily costs by the number of days of your trip, then add it all together. To be saved, add 20% more, as things are always more expensive than you plan both in companies and in personal life, largely because we’re too optimistic. That’s the money that you’ll definitely have to spend.
By subtracting that from what you’ve got budgeted, you’ll know how much you’ll have left for the fun stuff.
Work out the costs of activities
Then it’s time to see what’s possible in the area and what you might be interested in. Read through the websites, tally up the costs to the different places and work them out as lump sums that you can write down. If all of the activities still fit within your budget, then hurrah! If not, then you’ll have to start making priorities.
How you do that is up to you. You can get the family involved and ask them what they definitely want to do and what they’re willing to skip for this year. Or you can wield the red pen all on your own and design things so that you think everybody will end up the happiest. Just as long as you find some way to make sure your trip doesn’t blow the bank.
And there you go. You’ll have an idea of how much things will cost. Hopefully, you’ll have some rubber room left over in your budget in case things shift around. Also, a piece of advice – don’t plan every minute of every day. This is meant to be your dream vacation. How can it be that if you’re running around, stressed out and unable to actually relax?
It is important to give everybody the space to relax and do their own thing. Even better, give people the flexibility to help choose what order they can do things. For when people have agency, they’ll often enjoy doing things (and their lives overall) far more. And that can make sure that your dream vacation ends up being one the one best remembered as well.