Here in Colorado the snow has started to fly and many people are planning their winter escapes or ski vacations. As you are planning for some winter fun in the next few months, we suggest taking a look at your finances and creating a savings plan to keep the stress meter low and the fun meter high.
Here are 7 tips to save for your winter vacation while saving some additional money along the way:
Calculate the Cost
Start by figuring out how much your trip will cost. Be sure to include flights, transportation, lodging, meals, activities or excursions and souvenirs. If you have dates in mind for your trip, divide the total cost over the number of months you have before your travel. (Cost of Trip / Months Before Travel = Monthly Savings Rate) If the monthly savings goal is too much, consider pushing back your travel dates.
Create a Vacation Account
To keep from dipping into your vacation savings before the big trip, create a separate vacation savings account. Put your vacation savings directly into the account and don’t touch it until it’s time to buy airfare, put down a deposit, etc.
Once you have decided how much your trip will cost and opened a vacation savings account, automate your deposits to the account. Make sure you aren’t taking more than you can afford from your budget. Automating the process can make saving much easier. You know what they say, “out of sight, out of mind”.
Fly with Free Bags
Many trips during the winter and over Spring Break involve lots of luggage… skis, helmets, and bulky winter gear. When you are looking for airfare, consider how much flying with all of your gear is going to cost. If you have status on an airline and get free bags, fly that airline if possible. Airlines such as Southwest offer free bags, which can save a lot of money on round trip expenses.
Save on Skiing
If your vacation plans involve a trip to the mountains for some skiing fun, consider renting your gear in advance and/or off the mountain. Many resorts and shops give a discount for gear reserved in advance. Purchase your tickets in advance as well. Check websites like liftopia.com (link to: http://www.liftopia.com), local grocery stores and gas stations as well as the resort’s website to avoid the ticket window costs.
If you are more of a sun and sand type, look for all-inclusive resorts. Staying at an all-inclusive resort makes it much easier to calculate your expenditures because your food, drinks, lodging, some activities (and sometimes airfare) are all included. Once you have settled on a resort, research excursions or off-site activities and add the costs to your budget.
Reevaluate Your Dates
While traveling over President’s Day Weekend, Martin Luther King Day Weekend or Spring Break might seem to make the most sense for your family, it can also dramatically increase costs. Take a look at your family calendar to see if you can squeeze in a long weekend when costs are lower.
Winter vacations, whether in the snow or sand, can be fun but expensive. Consider using a few of the tips above to effectively save for your vacation and get the most bang for your buck. Safe travels!