These easy tips can help you save for a dream vacation

For those who like to travel or have travel ambitions, the thought of where the money is going to come from can be totally intimidating. A lot of us didn’t grow up going on regular trips, and for the most part, vacationing seemed like something only rich, white people did. But now that we make the money—and have vacation days to use up—the wanderlust has firmly set in. 

First off,  let us remind you. There is absolutely no virtue in forgoing your vacation days unless you’re saving it all up for an epic dream vacation. For the most part, if you don’t use them, you’ll lose them, whether that happens because your days don’t roll over into the next year or because you change companies. Think about it this way: when you first accept a job offer, your vacation days are considered a part of your salary package, so if you have no intention of using them, you probably should’ve bargained for better pay. 

Now that that’s over with, let’s talk about what you can start doing today to make that dream vacation a financial reality sooner rather than later.

Set a goal/budget

The first thing you’ll need to do is decide on your destination and the length of your trip and come up with a realistic budget for the trip. Once you have a baseline or bare minimum number in mind, you can then decide on a goal amount that will allow you to enjoy some excursions, some nice dinners and maybe even a few splurges. Of course, if you want to live it up every day and at every meal, you can figure out a number for that too.

Withhold at the maximum

If you’re not already withholding taxes from your paycheck at the maximum amount, call your company’s human resources department and have them change it so that you are. Your withholding will now act as a savings account that you don’t even think about and when you file your taxes at the end of the year, you’ll get more back that you can designate for your trip.

Let your credit card work for you

Hopefully you don’t have too many credits, but you should have at least one that offers the very best incentives available to someone with your credit score. Many banks will offer points that can be used toward travel, or even to pay off your own credit card bill, which will free up the funds on your card to use for travel (just be sure to pay it off as quickly as possible), which means the points you accrue can actually pay for your travel even if it’s not a travel rewards card. You also want to make sure your paying off credit cards balance each month, so that your precious dollars aren’t going toward credit card interest instead of your dream trip.

Open a separate account

Go ahead and open up a savings account for your travel fund and set up automatic transfers for each pay week. The amount doesn’t have to be huge, but as long as you have something going into that account, you’ll be working towards your travel goals. 

Don’t touch your cash transfer apps

We all use cash transfer apps like Venmo and Cashapp these days, and there’s nothing better than opening the app after awhile and finding cash you forgot about. If you don’t need the money that’s being transferred to you immediately, leave it in there! When it comes time to book a component of your trip, it’ll be there waiting for you.

Hold off on groceries 

Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you starve yourself. What we mean is, that you should plan to eat through your pantry and freezer one week a month. Use up what you have and take what you would have spent on groceries and deposit it into your travel fund. Depending on your weekly grocery budget, this could yield hundreds of dollars each month. So what you have to eat simple meals one week a month?! It’ll be worth it when you’re shopping the markets in Cape Town or floating around on a catamaran in Belize.