Saving money is never really a lot of fun and going on vacation is always a lot of fun. However, when you have limited funds, the question really is should I save money or go on vacation. The answer might surprise you.
Is it Worth it To Spend Money on Travel?
Before you start packing your bags, you need to ask yourself a few questions. Answer them honestly and you will know whether or not you should save money or go on a vacation.
1.Do You Have an Emergency Fund?
Before you should even consider taking a trip, you need to have an emergency fund. How much of one depends on your personal situation, but at a bare minimum, it should be a least $1,000.
Some people want six months’ worth of living expenses in an emergency fund before they started traveling, but that isn’t necessary.
If you have your emergency fund covered, you’re one step closer to taking a vacation.
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2. Do You Have the Funds to Pay for Your Vacation?
Are you going to have to charge everything like hotel rooms, airfare, food, and other expenses or are do you have the cash to pay for them?
It’s one thing to put all your travel expenses on a credit card and then pay your credit card off in full when it is due and quite another adding a bunch of bills to your credit card debt without any way to pay them off quickly.
If you do charge your vacation, it will cost you much more down the line than the original expenses, so if you don’t have the cash, postpone your trip and save it up.
3. Are You Going to Have to Skimp on Other Expenses if You Go on Vacation?
In other words, do you have enough money to meet all of your normal monthly expenses and any surprises even if you are spending money on a vacation?
If you have everything covered with a nice cushion of cash and you won’t end up having to skip paying a bill or paying a bill late, then you might be in a position to go on a vacation.
4. Have You Met Your Savings Goals?
Look back over the past six months to a year. If you have been saving money, chances are you had a goal you were hoping to reach.
It if was a goal of saving money to travel and you reached your goal – enjoy your trip and be sure to take a lot of pictures!
If your savings goal was something else and you haven’t been able to set aside any money for that savings goal in the last six months to a year, then you better stay home and work on building up those savings.
So, Should I Travel or Save Money?
If you find yourself in a good position to take a trip without breaking the bank or destroying your savings plan or adding to your debt, then take your trip and feel good about it.
If you are struggling to make ends meet, don’t even consider traveling at this time.
Do You Regret Spending Money on Travel?
Once you have thought it through and come to a reasonable decision never regret spending money on travel.
Travel is its own reward. You gain life experience and connect with people in a new way. You open new horizons and you are always better off for the experience.
Even if your trip turns out terrible, you will still have a great story to tell for years to come.
How Much Should I Save Per Month for Vacation?
How much you should save will depend on what kind of trip you are planning to take.
If you are backpacking through Thailand for a couple of weeks you won’t need nearly as much money as you would for two weeks at Disney World.
Take some time to determine all of the costs you expect to have during your trip. This can include things such as:
- Air travel
- Day trips
- Train fare
- Cap rides
Always expect the unexpected and add 20% more to your travel budget.
Once you come up with your total figure, just divide it by 12 and you will know exactly how much to save per month for your trip.
How to Save for a Vacation on a Tight Budget
Not having a lot of extra money can make it difficult to save for a vacation.
You will need to take a close look at where and how you are currently spending your money. Do you waste money on anything?
Can you find $25 or $50 a month that you are currently spending that you could be saving for a trip? If so, make a few changes and start doing so.
A good way to get going is to decide where you want to go on your vacation.
Once you do that, then every time you decide to waste a little money on lunch or a new top or coffee out, ask yourself before you do, is this thing you are impulsively spending money on more important to you than going on your trip to (fill in the blank?)
Most likely it isn’t.
One other way to save money for a trip when you’re on a tight budget is to get a side hustle or job for a few months.
It’s no fun working a second job, but this is a quick way to make enough to go on your vacation, so it might be worth the extra work.
Even better, find something you can do, like selling stuff you already own on eBay, so you aren’t working for someone else, and you can work at your own pace and save money as you’d like.
Spending Money On Vacation – Save Where You Can
When you are on a tight budget, you will need to have realistic expectations about your trip.
Find ways to save on airfare, lodging, and food.
For example, you can housesit anywhere in the world. This will allow you to stay in your vacation spot for free.
You might have to walk a dog or feed a cat or just pick up the mail every day, but that’s a small price to pay to save hundreds or thousands on your vacation costs.
If you can drive to your vacation location all the better, but there are deals to be had on airfares as well.
Late Tuesday nights (think around midnight) and early Wednesday mornings (think 1:00 or 2:00 am) are the best times of the week to find the lowest airfares online.
When it comes to food, be sure your hotel room has a small refrigerator so you can have lunchmeat and cereal, and milk for breakfast.
It will save you a ton of money on eating out.
When my sister and I went to Paris, we bought wonderful French bread and cheese and kept them on the window balcony to stay cold.
That was our lunch and then we would hit the bakery for a cheap pastry and coffee in the morning.
It saved us a great deal of money as our only real meal out in a restaurant was dinner each night. Even then, we often split our meal to save even more.
Are Vacations Worth it?
Vacations are always worth it.
Just be sure that you have all your financial bases covered before you head out the door.
That way, you can enjoy your trip without feeling guilty or being stressed about the money you are spending.