The average American paid about $1,180 per person for a summer vacation in 2012, according to a travel survey conducted by American Express. If you dream of going on vacation but have no idea how you would afford it, the following tips can help you save for a fantastic trip:
Bypass the Hotels
Hotels aren’t the only place to sleep while on vacation. Bed-and-breakfasts and condos are often less expensive, particularly those farther away from city centers. You may sacrifice on luxuries, but if luxury accommodations aren’t central to your dream vacation, consider these short-term rental options. You’ll get to know a neighborhood and experience the local flavor—maybe you can even live “Eat, Pray, Love”-style in a village cottage with servants and cooks.
Independent Traveler recommends vacation rentals for similar reasons, although not all will come with household help. Even in expensive locales like Hawaii, vacation rentals are comparable in price to nearby hotels and may offer more space and privacy. And while concierges aren’t servants, rentals that include their services are a nice bonus.
Cash in Your Stuff
You don’t have to wait for spring to do some spring cleaning. In fact, if you’re snowed in, empty out those closets and sort through your basement and garage to see what you could sell to raise your travel funds. In addition to eBay and Craigslist, most local newspapers have online sales pages, so customers can snowshoe over to see what you’re selling.
What about money that’s tied up? If you have money stashed away in an annuity or structured settlement that isn’t serving your needs now, consider liquidating your future payments. If a vacation is central to your mental health, consider it money well-spent. Structured settlement and annuity payments that no longer fit your needs, J.G. Wentworth observes, may be converted into a lump sum of cash now. You could then use the money to help fund your dream vacation.
Lastly, check your W4. Many people withhold too much money because it’s fun to get a big tax refund. But that refund itself becomes taxable income next year, so be smart and go through the worksheet. Put the extra cash in a savings account earmarked for your vacation.
Layaway: Not Only for KMart Shoppers
People of a certain age smiled at Kmart’s renewed Christmas ads for layaway. Layaway—making small payments to hold a purchase in your name—has had new life breathed into it, according to MarketWatch. For as little as $99, travel sites, airlines and even some retailers like Sears will hold a vacation for you on layaway. Many won’t even charge a service fee, although there may be cancellation fees.
Once you’ve made the payment commitment, you’ll be eager to pay for the big bonus at the beach or wherever your dream vacation awaits.
If money were no object, where would you like to go on a dream vacation?