How to Save for a Month-Long Vacation

I decided this post would be most appropriate while I am on my month-long vacation!

When planning a long trip such as this one you always have to start with costs. You have to factor in airfare, hotel/guesthouse, local transport, food, entertainment, splurges, and so on. Once you have the big number calculated you have to plan your savings strategy to make it happen.

I always start by looking at my monthly budget. In the 1-month vacation example I can immediately see that the "Food" and "Gasoline" budget items are at my disposal. I won't be home using gas in my car nor will I be going to the grocery store or eating out at home. Those I allot to the vacation budget immediately.

Next I start shopping around to reduce costs. Is there a cheaper airfare (maybe with a layover)? Can I use any miles or points I may have to reduce or eliminate the airfare cost? Do I need a 5 star hotel or will a 2 star bed and breakfest or guesthouse do just as well? What sort of things to do are available for free? This list can go on forever. Look at every cost on your vacation list and explore options.

Once I have some more exact costs and itinerary determined I work up a monthly savings amount to fill the gap. Remember to include the actual month you will be gone as you will still get your paid time off money even though you are not here! Start an automatic savings plan to reach this goal. This is a great use for a savings account from Smarty Pig!

Now all you have to do is plan all the fun stuff that you will do while you are gone. You have the savings on autopilot and are on your way. I highly recommend getting a guidebook, such as the Lonely Planet, for your destination so you can get good idea of costs, activities, local information about your destination. Planning the vacation is half the fun so get to it!