Pick Your Destination
There is lots of advice out there about how to save for a family vacation on a budget. It’s all high-level theoretical mumbo jumbo about how real families would save money in a perfect world. A lot of these articles tell you to set a budget first. My advice is to pick your destination first. It’s much easier to know the real scope of what you are looking at in terms of how much you need to save if you know where you want to go, instead of just where you can afford to go. You need to realize that you’re a family now, and while there are so many amazing things to do in Sonoma and Napa, it’s probably not right for kids. That shouldn’t stop you from planning an amazing time away with your loved ones.
Dream big. Don’t be afraid to pick a destination that seems like it is out of your reach, as long as it’s appropriate for everyone. We’re going to show you how to make those dreams a reality. For real.
Let’s use Walt Disney World as an example. It’s big. People love it. Most people are still dreaming of how to get their family to Walt Disney World. Go big, right?
Do Your Research and Set a Budget
Do some research and answer the following questions: how long do we want to be on vacation? How are we going to get there? Where are we going to stay? What parks are we going to visit at Walt Disney World? How many people are going? How much money will it cost to eat each day, per person? How much spending money do we need per person, per day? What are the miscellaneous travel costs (taxis, tips, etc.). Once you have answered all of those questions, write down how much money you need to make this trip a reality.
Now, take a deep breath. You don’t need to save ALL OF THE MONEY to start planning your vacation to Walt Disney World.
Incremental Savings and Payments
The first thing to do is tally up how much money you need to book flights. Save enough money for the flights and then book the flights. Just the flights. Once your flights are booked, you’ll know you are going, and you’ll be motivated to save the rest of the money you need to get to Walt Disney World! After you book your flights, save some more money and then book your hotels. Try to pay them all in advance, so you don’t have to travel with more money than you will need. Also, prepayment means the money’s already spent, and you don’t have to worry about it again. After your hotels are booked and paid for, start saving for your park tickets. Once you have enough money to buy your park tickets, work on saving your spending money.
Once you know you can get there (airplanes), and once you know you have a place to stay (hotels), and once you know you have entrance to the parks (tickets), the rest is gravy. You will find the money to spend while on vacation. It’s like this: you were going to have to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at home anyway, so now you just need to plan a little more out of your meal budget for that week and you’ll have enough for food. As for spending money, make that the thing you plan a small budget for: the experience is worth the money, but the things you’ll buy on vacation are not as important as actually getting to go on vacation. Bon voyage!