Planning and budgeting for an annual vacation should be done well ahead of time, in order that the vacation itself is as stress-free and smooth as possible. The last thing you want to be doing while trying to relax and enjoy yourself is to be worrying about the cost of travel and wondering if you’ll be able to afford your trip. So take a few extra steps before
The first thing to do when planning a vacation is to start early. You should be thinking about possible locations and times well ahead of your actual vacation. Often, booking flights ahead of time and researching in a variety of places will result in a major discount or savings. This applies doubly for summer vacations. Not only do summer travel dates fill up much faster than at other times of the year, but short-term planning could mean a price hike of up to 200%.
In order to draw up a tentative budget for your annual vacation, you should get to know the basic costs of what you plan to do. When traveling abroad, the most expensive part of the trip is often the airfare or transportation costs. Before you book a flight or travel package, get information on the applicable fees and taxes.
Tickets for international travel often have processing fees on top of the basic sticker price, as well as airport fees, and exit/entry taxes for the country of origin. Be sure to get all available information before you book your flight, so that you are not stuck with an unpleasant surprise.
In addition, travelers must watch out for hidden fees with airlines, bus services, or even cruise lines. There is usually a strict baggage allowance for flights, and the number of bags and carry ons is controlled on buses and ships as well.
Additional or extra heavy items may mean a fine, which can often be more expensive than the ticket itself! So remember to travel light, especially if you are only going on a short vacation. Chances are you will end up buying new clothes and items while there, and will want to transport them back with you, so leaving that extra space and weight will come in very handy on the return voyage.
Once travel has been taken care of, then next major budget item is lodging and food. Lodging is the most important, since arriving in a foreign location without a place to stay can lead to disaster. Instead, it is usually best to make reservations well ahead of your trip, to ensure that you not only have a place to sleep, but that the price you pay will not be a last-minute desperate location. Planning ahead can also mean discounts, if you buy early enough to avoid the usual summer price hike.
Although it is often difficult to gauge the accommodations of a hotel or hostel before you arrive, you can count on listings to give you photos and reviews of the location, as well as prices to help with your budgeting. Too keep accommodation costs down, consider staying a little outside the center of the city, in a quieter or more residential neighborhood. Multiple-night stays also can be a way to get an additional discount on the total price of a visit. Sometimes, especially on the off-season, travelers staying for a week or more can expect a lower nightly rate than those staying only a day or two.
Besides accommodation, the last major cost of a trip is food. Most travelers want to sample the local cuisines, eating out almost every night to make the most out of their experience. This can be a great way to get an inside knowledge of the culture and cuisine of your vacation spot, but is also a great way to increase your travel budget.
Try to cut food costs by visiting supermarkets and making picnic lunches, or by cooking your own food if you are in a location for a significant amount of time. When you do eat out, try your best to avoid the obvious tourist traps, which may serve the same food as the small local shops, but at much higher prices. Local places are also great for getting the real view of the local culture, and seeing things outside the tourist loop.
If you’ve planned early, make wise travel decisions and found cheap and good lodgings, you will be well on your way to having a great annual vacation while still keeping costs at a reasonable level. Always remember to keep some spare emergency money in the budget, in case of accident or sudden departure, or if your wallet gets stolen somehow.
And of course, include entertainment and fun items within your budget, so that you make sure that you have the money to go out and make the most of your vacation!