Plan a Vacation on a Budget

Vacation time, or me time as I call it, is vital to a healthy lifestyle. All routines need a break now and then even if it’s just a long weekend.

Some of us have “dream” vacations that never happen because we don’t have the time or money to make it real. If that’s you too, take a look at what’s really important within that “dream” and then compromise on the extras or make them into several vacations instead of one.

It’s easier to plan a vacation on a budget when you break it down into manageable pieces.

A Budget – What’s That?

Drafting a budget can be helpful for both time and money restrictions. Knowing how my time and money is spent is usually a surprise. I may think I know what activities require most of my time or money on a regular basis, but writing it down allows me to see what actually happens.

  • Make a written list of fixed expenses for a period of time – maybe a month.
  • Make a list of everything else you spend money on during the same time period.
  • Make a list of which items, on either list, you are able or willing to cut out or lower in cost.
  • Write out a new budget with the cuts you actually are able to make and with a new category called vacation fund.

I think sitting down and actually going over the new budget with family membersFamily meeeting makes everyone feel invested in getting to the vacation goal.


Take a Look at Timing

Vacations for families usually revolve around school schedules and activities. Those of us past that part of life are able to make use of the entire year for vacation plans. Our jobs may restrict our timing of vacations as well.

  • Spring break and holiday breaks maybe the only time your school aged children have off besides summer. So many vacation destinations for families are overcrowded and overpriced during these dates. Check prices immediately before or after school breaks and see if a day or two either way gets you a discount or better price.
  • If flying is part of your vacation, the same day or two flexibility can save you money and less crowded facilities.
  • Without school or school activities to plan around it is much easier. Look for off-season pricing or discounts for weekdays instead of weekend arrivals and departures.

Working around everyone’s schedules is almost always tricky but definitely spend some time researching when and where you can vacation for less.

Where to go?

When you plan a vacation on a budget, it’s important to choose more than one destination in the beginning. Being flexible on where you go for vacation is almost as important as how and when you go. They all impact timing and cost.

  • Have all individuals involved in your vacation give input on the destination. This will allow you to compile a list according to mutual interest.
  • Research several choices and add the cost to your list. This will tell you if any choice is outside your budget limits and needs to be taken off the list.
  • Add day trips from home to your list of possible choices. You may have plenty to see and explore without getting on a plane or staying in a hotel. Costs will be greatly affected with this choice.

Not all vacations need to start and end in the same place with all the same people. My children used to beg to spend time with my parents on the farm. We would spend a couple of days on our own mini vacation while the kids spent time weeding the garden and freezing homemade ice cream. Our adult only time was relaxing and fun while our kids were completely spoiled while being loved by their grandparents. A good time was had by all.

Make Plans Early

Putting a plan in place well before you vacation allows for flexibility and savings. Many times I have made two sets of vacation plans. Since some of our children chose military careers, plans needed to be flexible. Deployments or changes in base assignments often moved them before vacations occurred. The costs involved to change flights and hotels could add up quickly so those plans needed to be held until close to actual vacation dates.

  • Backup plans – having a backup plan doesn’t mean it has to be a second choice – just a different choice.
  • Plans that involve flights, hotels or cruises may have discounts reflected in their pricing. Setting these up on a calendar early in your planning keeps you from missing the deadlines to take advantage of any price cuts.
  • Make sure your plan fits into your budget. If timing affects the price, be sure you match your budget with any new pricing.

Vacation at Home

Not all vacations require travel. We have spent many vacations at home for many reasons and still felt like we had an actual vacation.

  • Discuss vacation plans with family. One of our at home vacations also gave our children a vacation away from their home with low cost to them. Staying with family can help keep your budget in line.
  • When no common destination can be found among members, it’s definitely a stay at home decision. Time resting and relaxing in your own home can be just as fulfilling.
  • Use vacation time and budget money to fund a home project. We have remodeled several areas of our “fixer upper” and when we both spend time on the project it gets done quicker and exactly how we want it.

Leave me a comment and let me know how you plan a vacation on a budget.  Vacations are a way to restore our bodies and minds to a healthy state. Plan a vacation with your family today and have fun!


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