Here’s How To Save Thousands For Your Next Vacation

Do you want to go on a vacation? Do you know how to save for a vacation? The two go hand in hand! Because vacations can be expensive, many people try to “afford” them by taking on more debt, and this is something I never recommend doing. Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, and coming…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: March 7, 2024

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How To Save For A Vacation - Create Your Vacation Savings Plan Now! #howtosaveforavacation #travelfundjar #vacationsavingsplanDo you want to go on a vacation? Do you know how to save for a vacation?

The two go hand in hand!

Because vacations can be expensive, many people try to “afford” them by taking on more debt, and this is something I never recommend doing. Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, and coming back home to a pile of debt is the opposite of relaxing.

So, today, I want to help you learn how to save for a vacation. These are actual things you can do to save money for your trip and have money to spend without taking on any debt.

There are many ways to save money ON your vacation, and you can read those here – How To Travel On A Budget And Still Have The Time Of Your Life. Today’s article is a little different from that, though.

With the tips in today’s blog post, you’ll learn how to save for a vacation by creating a savings plan that allows you to actually save all of the money you need before you leave for your trip.

I hear a lot of people say that they don’t have any extra money for a vacation, and I hope that with today’s advice, you can start setting aside money to finally go on that long awaited trip.

Related content on how to save for a vacation:

How to save for a vacation:


Figure out how much money you need.

Before you can even plan how to save for a vacation, you should calculate how much you plan on spending. While you won’t be able to do an exact calculation, you will be able to estimate your average expenses by researching your destination. This can give you a good idea of what you will need to save.

Everyone travels differently, so no two numbers will be alike. You’ll want to determine how cheaply or luxuriously you’ll want to travel in order to figure out how this will fit into your monthly budget.

Some of the expenses you’ll want to think about include:

  • Your accommodations
  • How you will get to and from your destination, airline fees, Visa fees, etc.
  • Whether or not you will rent a car once you get to your destination
  • How much you will spend on food and snacks
  • Entertainment
  • If you need to purchase any specific clothing (such as hiking gear, swimwear, etc.)
  • If you need an international phone plan or wifi
  • ATM fees or exchange rates
  • Souvenirs

And more!


Put money into savings before you spend it.

After you pay your monthly bills and set aside money for retirement, the next thing you may want to do is to put money aside for your vacation fund. This is money you set aside before thinking about your budget for going out to eat, entertainment, etc.

This will allow you to save more money and cut back on unneeded spending because you’ll have less money each month to spend. This will cause you to think more carefully about each dollar you spend.

Think of it as something similar to a “pay yourself first” budget.

Read more at Pay Yourself First – How This Simple Trick Can Help You Save More.


Open a travel savings account.

Yes, you can even create a vacation savings account.

If you want to separate your vacation savings from the rest of your finances, which can help you see how much money you have saved, you may want to create a vacation bank account.

Many banks allow you to have more than one account, so I recommend simply asking your bank if you can open a separate account with little hassle and no extra fees.

Doing this is also a great way to see exactly how much you’ve saved – think of it like a travel fund jar.


Follow a budget and cut expenses.

If you want to learn how to save for a vacation on a tight budget, then you will probably have to cut your expenses. Yes, this may even help you to figure out how to save money for vacation in 6 months or less!

Budgets are great because they keep you mindful of your income and expenses. With a budget, you will know exactly how much you can spend in a category each month, how much you have to work with, and what spending areas need to be evaluated, among other things.

This is an important step in learning how to save for a vacation because it can help you save as much money as you can for your travel fund.

So, if you need to find extra money to put towards your vacation, then you may need to find ways to cut your expenses. This may mean doing things such as:

  • Cutting your own hair or going a little longer between haircuts
  • Bringing your lunch to work
  • Cutting cable
  • Eating out less
  • Negotiating your bills, such as your cell phone, insurance, etc.
  • Quitting smoking and drink less
  • Riding your bike more instead of using your car 100% of the time
  • Eliminating your gym membership and finding more frugal ways to work out

Remember, with every dollar you may be able to save, that’s one more dollar that you can use on other things, such as the vacation you are planning!

Read more at The Ultimate List of Over 50 Money Saving Tips.


Make extra money.

Whether you have just one free hour a day or if you are willing to work 40 to 50 hours a week on top of your full-time job, there are many options when it comes to earning extra money.

This extra money can then be saved and put towards your vacation.

If you want to make some extra money to help you figure out how to save for a vacation, here are just a few of the many ways you can make extra money:

  • Teach English – Did you know that you may be able to teach English online to children? VIPKID is a company that allows you to work from home, create your own schedule, and earn $18-21 per hour (many teachers are earning over $1,000 per month) all while teaching English online. You don’t need a teaching degree, but you do need to have a 4-year degree in something.
  • Sell your stuff – There are many ways you can make extra money by selling items. We all have things around our homes that can be sold instead of collecting dust, or you can even search for items that can be bought and resold for a profit.
  • Answer surveys – Survey companies I recommend include American Consumer Opinion, Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, ProOpinion, Pinecone Research, and Harris Poll Online. These survey companies are free to join and free to use! You get paid to answer surveys and to test products. It’s best to sign up for as many as you can, as that way you can receive the most surveys and make the most money.
  • Walk dogs and/or pet sit for extra money – If you love animals, then you may want to look into how to make money on the side by walking dogs or pet sitting. With this side hustle, you may be going over to your client’s home to check in a few times a day, you may be staying at their house, or the animals may be staying with you. Rover is a great company that you can sign up with in order to become a dog walker and pet sitter. Learn more about this at Rover – A Great Way To Make Money And Play With Animals.
  • Become an Uber or Lyft driver – Spending your spare time driving others around can be a great money maker. Read more about this in my post How To Become An Uber Or Lyft Driver. Click here to join Uber and start making money ASAP.
  • Work overtime – One way to make more money at the job you already have is to see if your company will allow you to work overtime. In many cases, overtime is welcomed and you can earn a decent amount of money through this. Plus, what’s an extra hour or two when you’re already there? And, if working overtime is your answer to the question “how to save for a vacation?”, then that vacation will feel even better when you achieve your goal!
  • Mystery shop – Yes, you can actually get paid to shop at stores and eat at restaurants. A few years ago, I mystery shopped a lot to make extra income. I made anywhere from $150 to $200 a month mystery shopping and received free meals, makeup, and more. I only used Bestmark for mystery shopping, so I know that they are a 100% legitimate company. There are other legitimate mystery shopping companies that exist, but you do want to do your research.

Remember, these are just a few of the thousands of different things that you could do to make more money as a way to figure out how to save for a vacation.

Related content:


Make your vacation goal visual.

Turning your vacation savings into a visual goal is a great way to find motivation and make saving money fun.

Having your financial goal displayed in front of you can make it that much more real, plus it’s nice to have a constant reminder of what you’re working towards.

Various ways to make your financial goal visual include:

  • Print this simple printable and cross out each goal as you complete it – Free 12 Week Travel Savings Plan
  • Create a graphic that demonstrates your financial goal. I did some research and found a blog post on A Cultivated Nest about many creative ways to do this.
  • Keep a picture of your goal on hand. Having a picture of your long-term travel goal will keep it on your mind. You can even go all out and create a vision board on Pinterest or on a poster board that shows all of the destinations you want to visit.


Hack your travel

Travel hacking may allow you to travel for cheap and even close to free.

I know someone who churned several credit cards for their bonuses and saved up a ton of points before they left for a full year of travel, and they were able to get all of their flights for nearly free by doing this.

I am currently earning several thousand dollars a year by easily using my credit cards to pay for the things I could normally pay for with cash, a debit card, or bank account.

Hacking your travel is a great way to spend like you normally would while earning points for free travel. However, I do want to say that please only do this if you can trust yourself with a credit card. If you are bad at managing credit cards or can’t trust yourself with the temptation, then there is no need to go into debt in order to get cheap travel.

Learn more at How To Take A 10 Day Trip To Hawaii For $22.40 – Flights & Accommodations Included.

Where are you going for your next trip? What else would you recommend for a person who wants to learn how to save for a vacation?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. The travel hack one is big, but I’ve been too lazy to hop on the bandwagon. Many out there are killing it doing that, I’m just hesitant to have another account and spend the time to move all of my automatic credit card payments over, only to move them back again when done. Plus I like my card now and it has a great points system for travel, but the new card sign-up bonuses are what I’m missing.

    1. Yeah, it definitely requires a little bit of work!

  2. For my wife and I, having a separate savings account for travel is the biggest thing. We have our savings accounts with Capital One 360 and you can easily create multiple accounts and name them. Setting it aside in a separate account makes it a lot easier to actually spend that money on the vacation and not feel like you’re eating into your savings, plus it helps to have the motivation to actually set that money aside ahead of time since that account is how the vacation will be funded.

  3. I had my first American Express card back in 2006. I got excited about a CJ event in Santa Barbara, California and decided to venture out there by myself for an entire week. It was absolutely fun. I had an amazing time. Networked with many high paying quality advertisers, took pictures with many affiliate and advertisers, and eat like a king at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort in Santa Barbara. I had extra large buttery scallops with vegetables and all kinds of dessert and fruit available. If I can recall, I think I stuffed my face at the CJ event at Fess Parker’s Hotel. But one thing I didn’t do was plan my travel money in advance. I did order online in terms of booking my travel, hotel, and rental through a discount travel site and I got a really good deal at the time. But this was 12 years ago. Once I got the California, I spent money like there was no tomorrow. I must admit I was an absolute slop job at budgeting my travel funds. I continually put gasoline and other expenses on the credit card. I should have had more cash on hand but as they say, you live and learn, right? Thank you again Michelle for another thought-provoking blog post. 🙂

  4. For me, I am easily able to meet it due to business expenses and RVing – so it’s been nice! However, it has been more difficult lately to be approved for a new credit card because they don’t like full-time travelers usually.

  5. Great list of suggestions! I need to start working through it for our coming vacation this summer.

  6. Chris

    There are other options for those who want to get some miles and points with less spending. You could look into the Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited. They pay $150 that you can use for pretty much anything. You only have to spend $500 in three months to get the bonus, so it’s basically a 30% return on spending.

  7. Taylor O’Halloran

    I just opened a separate bank account specifically for travel savings and it makes me just want to see more 0’s in that account and it’s been super motivating for me!

    Thanks for sharing Michelle, you’re the best!

  8. One of the best ways we’ve found to plan a vacation is to not only save money up before hand, but also set the daily budget while we are on vacation. What expenses will we be facing? Will meals be free? Will we be buying souvenirs? What if something unexpected happens?

  9. Holly C.

    We are using Simple for mini accounts for different things to pay bills, save $ for our emergency fund, vacation fund, car repairs, etc. It takes a bit of dedication to get it going, but then we know what we ACTUALLY have versus if it’s in one big account there’s calculations to do and etc.

    My biggest thing is to plan vacations around the cheapest days to fly, use AirBnBs and especially for week-long vacations (and some offer 10-15% off), eat breakfast in the hotel/house/etc. (like make a small grocery trip once there for some basics and then cook breakfast each morning) and then venture out and have lunch and maybe dinner out. Activities, etc. you can look for Groupons and LivingSocial deals and sometimes kids are free admission depending on their ages.

  10. The Curious Frugal

    I definitely like regularly putting aside money into different accounts so that it’s not in my main account to spend. We do have a separate travel account and we’re in the middle of planning a longer road trip (with a toddler!). It’s nice having that separate account already going and not to have to wonder where we’re going to get the money from.

    1. Yes, I think it’s a great idea as well!

  11. Making extra money is one of the things that I do to help me save for a vacation. Selling on eBay and freelancing are just a few ways I’ve made extra money in the past.

  12. This is all fantastic advice. I ridiculously went into debt for vacations – TWICE – in my twenties, and it took into my 30s to pay it off due to all the interest accrued. I like your idea of setting up a separate savings account for people trying to afford vacations. I’m mostly happy my entire life is like a vacation now – thank goodness for remote work!

  13. Mr. MFC @ Morning Fresh Cent

    We are heading to Oklahoma in several months for a family wedding. I already have a separate account but I do need to look into the cost of the destination. No offense…what is in OK?

    1. I’ve only ever driven through Oklahoma and just overnight stops. Don’t know much else about it.

  14. Laurie@ThreeYear

    We’ve opened a separate savings account for our travel like you mentioned, and depositing the money we save on groceries in it each month (we’re focusing on reducing our food spending this year because it’s historically been pretty high). I’ve found it’s such a good motivator, because what’s better than saving for a trip?! 🙂

    1. Yes, it’s definitely a great motivator!

  15. Thanks for the tips. I am working on this now and definitely want to learn more about credit card rewards, specifically ones geared toward travel. I’m hoping to start travel either this year or definitely next year if not!

  16. Rolan

    Sound advice. We’re planning a wedding on 2020 so we definitely had to get on a budget and cut expenses to not only afford the wedding but have a honeymoon to remember. I’ve been using Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direcr), where they allow you to create separate accounts within your main account. It’s an easy way to keep track of how much I’ve saved.