Imagine your dream vacation. Maybe you see yourself trekking in Australia’s Outback, relaxing in a hammock on a beach in Bora Bora or taking a six-month cruise around the world.
But here’s the thing: Your dream vacation will remain a dream unless you begin saving for it. I recently travelled to London, Amsterdam and Switzerland this summer. The entire trip (transportation only) cost me just under $1300. And it would've cost me a lot less if I had purchased my tickets further in advance. There are a lot of ways you can save for a European getaway. Here's how I did it!
1. I Opened a Dedicated Vacation Bank Account
One easy way to save for a special trip is to open a dedicated vacation savings account. You can set up automatic payments into the account, and, with a little restraint, leave that money there until it’s time for your trip. If you choose an interest-bearing account, your money might even grow while you’re looking forward to your trip.
I opened a Christmas Club account with Commonwealth Bank and it's one of the best decisions I ever made. I would deposit anywhere between $50-200 every month. I have been able to withdraw from this account twice since opening it (the first time was to pay for my trip to St. Croix). The beauty of a Christmas Club account is you are allowed to withdraw once per year any time of the year for free. This month also gains interest, so the more I have on it, the more interest I get.
2. I Cut Back on My Monthly Food Budget
The biggest waste of money is eating out. By limiting fast food and restaurant expenses, in favour of cooking and eating at home, I was able to have money to put in savings. Sure I still treated myself occasionally (I didn't eliminate just cut back). This teaches important resources on how to make groceries stretch and how to enjoy leftovers. Truthfully, there were many days that I ate ramen noodles, so once I was on vacation, I ate well!
3. Cutting Back on Entertainment
I already had to limit my outings because I was paying for school out of pocket, but I had to be extra wise because of my savings. I'm not saying I didn't go out at all. I'm sure if you follow me on Instagram, you could see I still found time (although very little) to socialise. I became the master of finding free entertainment. I paid attention to Facebook events. I found free wine tastings, started having dinner parties with friends at home and went to almost every free event I could find. Check Facebook events and other social media outlets for local events that are cheap or free if you're looking for a good time on a budget.
4. Plan ahead and pre-pay as much as possible
Stretch your vacation savings a little further by finding deep discounts on trips using websites such as LivingSocial and Groupon. I used Expedia to book all of my tours and realised that I saved a lot of money when I looked at individual entrance fees to the tourist sites and how much landed I would never have been able to cover on my own.
5. Pay attention to the time of year you book
Had I booked my trip earlier, I could have saved about $200! My round trip ticket to London, connecting through Toronto cost just north of $1,100. Had I purchased my ticket in March instead of May I would have only paid about $980 round trip. Obviously the closer to your trip, the more you'll pay. And the more you monitor prices, the more the price will actually increase. Try to book on particular days during low demand hours. Naturally some places will cost more to travel to depending on the time of year. Certain festivals or national holidays can make your ticket much more expensive so pay attention to these little details when booking.
Saving up for a big trip isn’t easy, but these strategies should help you save a little bit faster and have your trip already paid for before you leave home.