Summer is right around the corner, and that can only mean one thing: Your head is probably somewhere else. Maybe it’s on a beach somewhere, or in the mountains, or at Disney World with your kids. Am I right?
Whether you have kids or you’re single, there’s an expectation that summertime must include going somewhere for a week, staying in a hotel, and eating nice dinners. There’s nothing wrong with that. I love a relaxing vacation as much as anyone else. But the problems start when you go on trips you can’t afford.
You don’t have to go into debt for a getaway. Here’s how to take a summer vacation without breaking the bank:
- Make a budget
I know it sounds boring, but this is the most important thing you can do if you want to take a trip without going broke. Before you start daydreaming about a Caribbean cruise, take a good, honest look at how much you can afford to spend on a vacation this year — and stick to it! Avoid the temptation to spend more than you have. Trust me, you’ll have more fun on your trip if you aren’t worrying about unexpected expenses.
- Pick a location
Maybe you can’t swing a luxury condo on the beach this year. That’s fine. Challenge yourself to get creative about where you can stay. You don’t have to stick to the traditional trips, like the beach or a big city. Consider going somewhere smaller or doing something totally new — like taking a family camping trip. National park admissions cost very little compared to the big resorts. And the memories you take home will cost nothing!
- Set a daily allowance
As the spender in my family, I know how easy it is to get caught up in the excitement of a vacation and spend too much, too soon. Just ask my husband! But the last thing you want to do on your trip is blow all your food money at the beginning, and be left snacking on cereal for dinner until you get home. Or even worse, go way over budget, and leave your bank account in a post-vacation mess. Set a daily spending allowance to cover all the food and fun.
- Focus on the family
Once you hit the highway, remember why you’re going on vacation in the first place. It isn’t about squeezing in as many big-ticket adventures as possible. It’s about taking time to rest, relax, and make memories. Don’t feel like you must go out to fancy restaurants every night, or pick up a new souvenir every day. Vacation is about quality time together, not the receipts and trinkets you collect along the way.
The purpose here isn’t to spoil your fun. The purpose is to set you up financially to have even more fun later. If you simply can’t afford a vacation without pulling out your credit card, just take a year or two off from traveling. It won’t kill you. Don’t forget that vacation is a want, not a need.
The best vacations are those that don’t follow you home!
Rachel Cruze is a two-time #1 national bestselling author, financial expert and host of The Rachel Cruze Show. Since 2010, Rachel has served at Ramsey Solutions, where she teaches people how to avoid debt, budget and win with money at any stage in life. She has appeared on Good Morning America, the Today show, LIVE with Kelly & Ryan, CNN Tonight, Fox & Friends and the Rachael Ray Show and has been featured in Woman’s Day, Success Magazine and Real Simple. Rachel believes it is possible for anyone to turn around their finances, win with money, and build a life they love. Rachel is also the author of Love Your Life, Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want.