If you are anything like me, you are sitting and staring out your window at a very gray and cold afternoon, daydreaming about relaxing at the pool or beach soon, and the sooner the better! Assuming you don’t already live near a beach or the pool, I think we all can easily relate to taking a nice summer vacation to relax or to see the sights of some far-off exotic or romantic place. Heck, even a family vacation sounds pretty good when the snowflakes are piling up, doesn’t it? So, why not plan for that getaway right now. It makes perfect sense and you can save an awful lot if you do right now!
Let’s get the boring part out of the way: The best way to save for a fabulous summer trip is to start early—like six months early (so…like right now). Starting now lets you grow your vacation fund in small ways over a period of time.
What will your typical summer vacation cost in 2020? The average summer vacation will cost about $2,000, according to John Hancock Life Insurance’s Twine app, which translates to roughly two to three weeks’ pay for the average American.
That’s really a pretty big number for most of us to handle unless we have planned and saved for it. Let’s face it, waking up some July morning and then deciding you need to get away will cost you even more in short notice almost every time. Not to mention your choices of hotels and flights will be limited if you do the “no planning” thing.
How to Start Saving Now So You Can Vacay Later
If you have access to the internet (and it appears that you do), the world is your oyster when it comes to vacation planning these days. You can see the airfares, the hotels, and in many cases live cams so you can actually see the beaches and waves! If you have any questions about a locale, try calling and asking yourself about a facility or area you are interested in. You can easily be your own travel agent in the 21st century!
Importantly, do a little math: If you want to save $2,000 and you have six months to do it, that breaks down to $333 and change per month. Set up a separate savings account just for this goal. Then, make your savings smaller and more frequent. $333 a month can feel a lot more intimidating than $11 a day, or about $77 week, but it all works out to about to the same number. Always make the number manageable for yourself and think big, but think small!
Make Your Reservations Now
According to the travel experts at Skyscanner, it pays to book now. Winter is among the best months to book the cheapest flights.
That said, booking advice is really all over the place. Skyscanner also says the best time to book a domestic flight is two to three weeks in advance. For international travel, it’s about five to six months.
Travel + Leisure cites a CheapAir.com study saying, for summer, your best bet is seven weeks in advance.
So with all this conflicting advice, what’s a super saver to do? Look early and use Skyscanner’s flight alerts to track the flights you’re interested in. Then you’ll know when the fares drop and it’s time to book.
Now Means You Are Serious and Will Actually Take a Vacation
Now’s the perfect time to get those dates on the calendar before Ted in accounting snakes the summer week you were looking for. And here’s a newsflash: you’ll never, ever go on a vacation if you don’t decide when to go first.
Having the first crack at your dates of choice by cementing days off from work early means one thing: you’re locked in. So, when your boss comes to you with a grand plan to update the website or do inventory planning for “your week”, you can say truthfully, “Gee sorry, my vacation request was already approved!”
And another plus, you will actually take the time off. The sad truth is more than half of American workers don’t use all their vacation time. (Sorry, you can’t take theirs too!) There are many reasons why people don’t take the time they deserve, but if your summer vacation is planned and paid for, chances are good that very little will deter you from actually ditching the office and enjoying your trip!
Save Even More Money by Planning in Advance
With the freedom to check out your options well in advance, you’ll also come across deals and discounts you may not have had to time to notice or cash in on. Rushing around and planning a last-minute vacation has some drawbacks and one of them is not having the time to properly plan ahead and bargain shop.
Keep an eye open for any special discounts being offered throughout the months leading up to your summer vacation at your destination and surrounding areas. Check online for coupons, special offers, and money-saving ways to get the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to popular attractions, restaurants, and all of your vacation outings. It’s always wise to follow the social media sites for those places you plan to go to, as they’re often hot spots for discounts and deals.
Now You’ll Have Something to Look Forward to
Sometimes the mental benefit of planning a vacation in advance is the most rewarding. It’s not only the stress relief of knowing that you’ve prepared and planned well. It’s also the inspiration a summer vacation brings. As the winter blues set in, it’s nice to be able to focus on what lies ahead. It can be incredibly motivating. We all need things to look forward to in life, right? Taking some time to look forward to your upcoming summer vacation and the building up of anticipation is good for the mind, body, and spirit.
Isn’t it time you started planning your summer vacation? Seize the day and start actively planning your next vacation now, in the dead of winter. Then start counting down the days until your toes are in the sand, the sun is on your face, and the waves are beckoning you to come play!
Have you started planning your summer vacation yet?