Are you mentally planning your vacation to escape this crazy cold weather? Or maybe you’re planning your vacation because where you live spring is in the air? In either case, make your vacation a reality by planning early. Taking time to plan NOW will allow you to enjoy an affordable vacation instead of returning home to face a mountain of bills. Here are 4 easy steps to follow:

1- Calculate how much you have saved for your vacation. Saved? What? Ok, so you haven’t saved any money towards a vacation this year. Can you save for a vacation in the next few months or maybe take a vacation later this year? If you really are on a tight budget then your option is a staycation for this year and a get-away vacation next year (or even 2 years from now).

2- Depending on how much money you have saved, multiply it by 80% to calculate your true vacation budget. Why 80%? Because the remaining 20% will cover those unexpected costs – such as taxes on hotel accommodations and rental cars, as well as additional baggage fees if you’re flying.

3- Break your budget (the amount you calculated in step 2) into 4 categories: transportation (air fare, rental car, parking, fuel, etc.) | lodging | food | entertainment (include movie rentals, towel rentals, etc). Now you know how much you can spend in each area. If you want to spend more money, then step-up your savings.

4- Search for special deals online but make sure to read the fine print. Look for additional fees and expiration dates. Before buying the deal, look at comments made by previous consumers. Check sites such as Groupon and Kayak. If you belong to any rewards programs, such as Marriott, make sure to check their deals.

It’s better to plan a vacation below your budget so you have additional money to spend if something comes up – for example, if you’re on the beach and you decide to go parasailing. By planning now, you’ll have time to search for discounts. What other ways have you found helpful to plan an affordable vacation?



Niv PersaudNiv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Her firm bridges the gap between financial planning and coaching. As a Transition Consultant, she offers sage advice in all aspects of life – financial, personal and professional. Niv does not manage money and does not sell financial products. Her services include spending plan development, divorce financial review, life strategy and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”