Saving for that dream vacation is hard. Hell, forget the dream, saving for ANY vacation is hard. We love to travel and we go away every opportunity that we can but we don’t have thousands of dollars in savings or unlimited credit cards. What we do have are a few tips and tricks that paired with our commitment to make travel a priority help make that next vacation happen even sooner.
Buy Gift Cards
We buy gift cards every week when we do our regular grocery shopping. For domestic travel gift cards are a no brainer. You can purchase them in denominations from $5 on up meaning even if you are low of cash this week you can still put a little something toward the trip. We also recommend buying them from a variety of places so you still have options while on vacation, this is so easy now-a-days with gift card displays in so many different stores.We buy gift cards from restaurants, gas stations and general stores like Wal-Mart or Walgreens. Sometimes (usually Christmas and graduation time) you can even find buy one get one offers keep your eyes open for deals that can help your vacation dollars go farther.
Of course we all wish we could eat at a trendy local spot or a charming mom and pop restaurant every day while traveling but the truth is most of us just can’t afford it. Don’t beat yourself up about it, embrace it! By eating in a chain restaurant you can get the meals you (and the kids) know and love and then get back to your day of fun and adventure.
Don’t get me wrong eating local is great when it’s easy or inexpensive or recommended by your best friend who says this little place in Montreal serves the best poutine fries she’s ever eaten. It’s just not something you should stress about. For us the bit of stress (guilt) we may feel from not always shopping local is more than made up for when we have the extra money and time to spend in a beautiful park or museum.
You’ve heard it before, change adds up. Of course we all know that is true but can it really help you go on a vacation? The answer is a resounding YES! We always have a jar sitting around the house collection change. Even as we use credit and debit cards more and more we still find ourselves with coins in our pockets. All those coins go straight into the change jar. I have even been known to pick change up off the street to take home and put in the jar. And I urge you to do the same. Don’t be ashamed, you are on a mission to take a vacation and those coins can help you get there so pick them up and put them in the jar. We put every coin we find in our jar and when the time comes for a trip we take it to one of those coin counting machines. Usually we can fill the car up with gas a 2 or 3 times with the change from the jar. It’s not a whole vacation but it helps a lot.
Why it Works (for us)
When it comes to money we are not the best savers. In fact we are bad savers. Money in a bank account or envelope is meant to be spent, it’s just too easy to get ahold of and then…away it goes. Gift cards are harder to spend, we keep all of ours in a big manilla envelope tucked away in a drawer and have never once been tempted to raid it, it’s as if once the GC has been purchased the money is spent and no longer easily accessible.
The change jar works the same way. Most things cost more than a few quarters these days so it’s pretty easy to just leave the change in the jar. If the coins start to pile up and it does get tempting to count some out we take it to get counted and them roll that money into a gift card.
These are a couple of the things that work for us, hopefully they will help you take that next vacation a little sooner.