How to save for vacation

Starting to save today can make your dream vacation a reality, sooner rather than later.

Senior couple leaning on convertible car with a surfboard on the beach.

A relaxing beach, staggering mountain or a European museum. Do you find yourself daydreaming about all the places you want to go? Sometimes it's a big undertaking to get real with that travel bucket list and make your dream trip actually happen. First you'll need to figure out where you want to go, then do your homework to figure out just how much that dream vacation is going to cost you. Once you figure that out, it's time to start saving to make the trip a reality and no longer just a dream.

Start saving today to make your dream vacation a reality

With unexpected expenses, spontaneous splurges and that daily eating out habit — you might be asking yourself, "how can I start saving money for vacation?" No matter what's standing between you and the travel experience of a lifetime, you can start making it happen today with a savings plan. Being financially smart isn't just about retirement plans and emergency funds. It's also about finding ways to live the adventure you want.

Price out each part of your trip and set a date

Setting a goal dollar amount and a goal date is a simple way to put you on the path toward a well-deserved vacation and can make your dream a reality. By having a savings plan, you'll watch your savings grow and begin to envision that exciting dream coming to fruition. Being excited about making a dream a reality can be a great motivation to start saving.

To determine your goal dollar amount, start by making a list of how you'll get to where you're going, where you'll stay, where you'll eat and how you'll get around. Assign an estimated dollar amount to each of those things. And be sure to add an amount for the extra spending money you'll want to have. You'll have your dollar amount to start saving for.

And now that you've got a dollar amount, set a goal date for having that money saved. With that date in mind, you can work backward to determine how much you will need to save every month. Say you've determined you need $1,000 for a beach vacation and you want to travel in a year. Dividing that $1,000 by 12 months lets you know you need to save about $85 a month. Our large purchase calculator can help with the calculation.

Where can you "cut" to save for that dream vacation?

You've got the dollar amount and the date set. Let's take a look at some ways to start saving.

Make it an "eat in" date night: Instead of going to a restaurant, why not have a date night at home — cook dinner together and then watch a movie all from the comfort of your home? At an average movie ticket price of about $9, then throw in a bucket of popcorn and a couple large sodas, you could save more than $50 — and that's just the movie! Set the savings aside for a fancy dinner while on your vacation.

No-spend day: Dare yourself to not spend a dime, just for one day. You might be surprised how much you could save in the course of just one day — a cup of coffee from your favorite coffee shop, a newspaper or magazine, lunch out, a soda — these could add up over the course of one day. What you might have spent that day, put it aside for your vacation. Once you've done it one day, it might be easier than you thought so why not make it a regular practice — maybe once a week, or more!

Pack a lunch: Packing a lunch can not only save you money, it can also help you reduce calories since you have more control.

Bring your own coffee: Making coffee at home and drinking it throughout the day can save you as much as $1,500 a year.

Cut expenses: Take a look at your bank statement, do you see any spending you could cut back on? Dining out, random shopping sprees, even grocery shopping. Grocery shopping online can help you avoid "impulse" purchases which could save you money. Nothing wrong with being a little "cheap" for a while — shop only sales, borrow clothes or other items, go to matinees or happy hours when the prices are lower.

How to actually put the money away

Auto-transfers: Save without thinking with auto-transfers or direct deposits from your paycheck to a separate account. Set up an auto-transfer through your work or bank to put aside a dollar amount or percentage before it even hits your main account. You'll be less tempted to spend it if it's already stashed away. By opening a separate account, you can watch the account grow — and get just a little more excited about that upcoming vacation.

Good old-fashioned envelopes: Hide an envelope in a home safe or a sock drawer and every month stash the cash. And don't feel the need to "borrow" from this envelope. Remember — it's off-limits until your vacation.

Bon voyage

A dream vacation can feel like it's a million years away. But it doesn't have to feel that way. Spending and saving is all about finding a system that works for you. And by starting today, a simple savings plan could make your dream vacation become a reality. Bon voyage — take pictures!

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.
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