Financial Changes: Covid-19 has ruled out a lot of travel and placed vacations on the back burner for the foreseeable future. That doesn’t mean that you can’t prepare for your next trip now, though. If you start today, you’ll be able to take off as soon as it’s safe to venture out once more.
One of the most important travel preparations to consider is your finances. Even the most modest vacation requires a fair amount of money. To make the most of your trip and have a seamless transition back home, make these changes in preparation:
1. Increase Your Savings
You should never go into debt just to go on a vacation. To amass adequate funds for your next trip, you should start saving well in advance. This ensures that you’ll have the money you need to go on a trip without any stress.
Saving ahead of time will also give you a nice buffer for when you return from your vacation. After all, your bills and payments won’t be taking a vacation while you’re away. Depending on your job situation, your income could also take a hit. Freelancers, for example, don’t earn money when they’re not actively working. Knowing you have enough money saved up will give you the peace of mind you need to fully enjoy your trip.
To help pad your bank account, try automated savings. A round-up feature attached to your debit card will squirrel away some savings with every purchase you make. When it comes down to putting your final number together, you’ll already have a good head start.
2. Set a Budget
Your next vacation needs a proper budget. This will control your spending throughout your trip so you don’t dip into your savings any deeper than you originally intended. If ever there was a time you might accidentally overspend, it would be during a vacation, since the goal is to enjoy yourself!
Begin developing your budget by listing your travel expenses. Gas money or plane tickets are essential if you hope to leave town. Add any needed lodging and food to your spending plan next. The rest can be dedicated to events, activities, and souvenirs. It’s best to start your budget with a target figure in mind so you don’t end up going too crazy.
3. Pick Up a Side Hustle
If your YOLO wish list yields a higher-than-expected total, you may need some extra cash to make your dream vacation happen. Look at picking up a side hustle. These smaller jobs can be done outside your normal work hours and provide just enough income to beef up your vacation savings.
A side hustle is anything that brings in extra money. Some examples include:
- Ridesharing through apps like Lyft and Uber
- Food delivery via DoorDash or Grubhub
- Freelance writing or marketing for local companies
- Small-scale photography
- Dog walking
- Landscaping and lawn care
- Personal training, coaching, or tutoring
In a best-case scenario, your side gig could involve your true passion in life. If you’re an aspiring artist, you can make money creating logos for businesses or selling your art online. This will create some additional cash flow for your vacation fund and could grow into something bigger over time.
4. Automate Recurring Payments
After you have your savings plan lined out and your budget in place, it’s important to take a look at your recurring payments before you set sail. Forgetting one of your payments while you’re on vacation will make for a nasty surprise upon your return. Late penalties and interest charges will have you paying more than you’d ever hope to.
The good news is that any recurring payment you have can likely be automated. If you haven’t done so already, start setting up autopay. Simply link your payments to a bank account or card, and the needed funds will be withdrawn each month. Be sure to keep an eye out on your account balance, though, to avoid accidental overdrafts.
5. Consider Possible Exchange Rates
If your vacation is taking you to another country, take a look at exchange rates before you go. If the currency of your target destination has been running high against the dollar, you may want to make other plans. At the very least, you’ll know ahead of time how big a bite the exchange rate will take out of your vacation fund.
You can check exchange rates online to convert your budget to local currencies throughout your travels. Do your due diligence to find the best way to convert your American dollars. Often this involves using local ATMs to make withdrawals with your debit card; just make sure your card doesn’t charge high foreign transaction fees. It’s generally best to avoid exchange booths in airports or other tourist-heavy areas, which often crank up rates to absurd heights.
6. Alert Your Bank
Another thing you need to do when travelling abroad is to alert your bank and credit card company of your upcoming trip. Most financial institutions have anti-fraud precautions in place to protect your funds and information. If you don’t alert them beforehand, they could flag your card the first time you make a transaction at your destination. The last thing you want is for your debit or credit card to be disabled for the remainder of your vacation.
Informing your bank or credit card issuer of upcoming trips won’t take long; a simple call will do the trick. Some also allow you to enter your travel dates via their website. This means you’ll never have to travel in fear of having your account frozen.
7. Sign Up for Rewards
Not signed up for travel rewards? Free travel points await you that you don’t want to miss out on. Racking up the rewards points will make your next vacation more affordable, allowing you to travel again sooner.
Airlines and hotels all have membership programs, most of which are free to use. You get points the more you travel, and the signup bonuses alone can make them worth your while. If you qualify, certain credit cards will accrue miles with purchases you make even when you’re not traveling. This way you can prepare for your next vacation while making all your usual transactions.
The lockdowns of the past year have given most of us a raging case of cabin fever. Start making these small changes today, and you’ll be set for your next vacation as soon as the pandemic is past.