Whether it’s trekking across Europe, embarking on a coast-to-coast road trip of the U.S., or cruising through the Canadian Rockies by train, most people dream about that one bucket-list vacation. To many, this adventure remains a dream. But with dedication and planning, it’s often more attainable than people realize.
As with any grand vacation, the key is preparation. From mapping out the entire trip to plotting the logistics and setting your budget, planning your perfect adventure will take time. Use the following guide to help you put your plans in motion for that once-in-a-lifetime excursion.
1. Determine Your Destination & Travel Dates
Now for the fun part! Begin by mapping out your ideal vacation. Even though your trip might be years down the road, the more information you can gather now, the better.
Spend some time researching your destination online with your travel partner(s). Look at destinations, lodging options, and transportation. Do you plan on renting a vehicle, taking subways or trains, or relying on taxis and Ubers? You’ll also want to decide on what excursions you plan to enjoy – maybe you want to explore nature, expand your knowledge about the local history, or free your wild side at amusement parks.
When you travel is also important. Make sure you research the weather and are familiar with local customs. If you’re traveling outside the country, a travel agent can provide a wealth of invaluable information. For example, many areas in Europe will go on holiday for several weeks each year. Traveling during these periods can be more enjoyable as crowds are typically smaller, but many local attractions may also be closed or operating on limited schedules.
2. Understand What Type of Budget is Needed
One of the main reasons people never realize their dream vacation is that these adventures often come with hefty price tags. That’s why it’s so crucial that you begin planning early.
Start by breaking up costs into the following categories:
Transportation (both to your destination & locally)
Excursions & Entertainment
Spending Money & Souvenirs
Since your dream vacation may be a few years out, you’ll want to buffer your budget for any inflation that may occur between now and then. The point is to get an approximate amount you’ll need to save so you can begin immediately.
Next, break out the amount into a monthly savings plan to help you reach your goal. For example, if you estimate your trip will cost $12,000, and you plan to embark in 3 years, break up the amount by months:
$12,000 / 36 months = $334 per month
While saving $12,000 may sound intimidating, you’ll see that your dream trip may be attainable when you break it up into smaller amounts.
If $334 per month is too much for your budget, don’t give up on your dreams just yet! Consider the following:
Save portions of monetary windfalls, such as tax refunds or work bonuses.
Review your current budget and look for areas to cut back.
Seek other income opportunities, such as freelancing your skills or starting a side hustle.
3. Begin Saving
Once you map out your destination and clearly understand the costs, you’ll want to begin your savings plan immediately. Start by opening a special savings account at the credit union. Then use this account solely for your dream vacation. Keeping this money separate from your everyday spending accounts makes you less likely to dip into it for frivolous spending.
One of the best ways to ensure you’re saving consistently is to automate the process with Payroll Deduction or Automatic Transfers.
Payroll Deduction: You choose an amount to be automatically withdrawn from each of your paychecks and deposited directly into your savings account.
Automatic Transfers: You select a specific day each month for a set amount of money to be transferred into your savings account.
Both options are typically free of charge at most financial institutions and are a great way to put your savings on autopilot.
4. Explore Financing Options
Sometimes even the most thought-out plans don’t come to fruition. Life happens, and your budget might get derailed. If that’s the case, don’t fret. Using a combination of savings and financing to realize your dream vacation is perfectly fine.
Set Amount: Borrowing a specific amount makes it easier to stick to a budget and prevent overspending.
Lower Interest Rates: Personal loans often have lower interest rates than traditional credit cards – helping you spend less on interest and more on enjoying yourself.
Quicker Payoff: Instead of only making minimum payments on a credit card, a personal loan has set monthly payments designed to help you avoid long-term debt.
Planning your dream vacation is an exciting process. And while these types of trips can come with significant costs, a well-thought-out plan can help ensure your dream trip becomes a reality.
If you’re ready to begin saving or you’re interested in a personal loan to help fund your trip, we’re here to help. Please stop by any of our convenient branch locations or call 248-322-9800 ext. 5 to speak with a team member today.
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