How to save for a vacation | Prioritizing to make travel a reality

This post may contain affiliate links to awesome products that I love. I won't promote items that I don't use or think you'll find useful. The full disclosure policy can be found here.

How to save for a vacation

My family gets a lot of comments about our travel habits. Most of them are positive, but a few are more along the lines of “I can’t believe you got to go to Hawaii” or “I wish I had the money to blow on vacations like you do” We don’t travel as frequently as some (I wish!) but we are still asked how we are able to afford to do the traveling that we do. The answer is surprisingly simple. Priorities.

When I am asked “how do you afford to travel,” I want to ask the following questions:

  • “How can you afford to go out to eat 5 times per week?”
  • “How can you afford a $400 cay payment?”

I don’t ask though, because it sounds just as judgmental as the questions that I am asked!

I’m really not judging, just making a point

Before I go on, let me just say that there is nothing wrong with doing any of those things. I love Starbucks just as much as anyone else! However, I know that buying Starbucks regularly is pretty hard on the budget. I just buy delicious mocha flavored coffee and make it at home! Going out to eat is easier than cooking at home, but the costs add up quickly. I have actually had someone tell me that I was lucky to be able to travel, right after telling me all about her brand new truck and truck payment! It isn’t wrong to have a new truck, but you’d be amazed at the things you can do without a car payment. I don’t mean to sound like Dave Ramsey (although I do love Dave Ramsey) but again, it’s all about priorities. The number one thing that you must do if you want to save money for anything is to get on a written budget.

How to start a budget

If you’re brand new to budgeting, you’re in luck. It really isn’t that complicated. We currently you You Need a Budget (YNAB) but I have used Every Dollar as well. I strongly prefer YNAB, you can check out my full YNAB review over here for more details. If you have $50 to spare, I love YNAB and how easy it is to use. They also have a free 34 day trial, so you can get the hang of budgeting and see if you like it before you purchase it. YNAB also has tons of videos showing you exactly how to set it up and use the software. If you don’t want to do your budget digitally, a budget written on paper is just fine. There is an easy budget in The Total Money Makeover, which is also a great read.

Upon starting a written budget, most people find out that they’re spending much more than they realized. You don’t necessarily need to cut all of these things out, everyone needs a little “fun” money. There are many ways to start saving, even simple ways like packing your own lunches. Once you have started your budget and established a vacation fund, figure out how much you can put toward the vacation. Many new budgeters notice that they are spending far too much on non-necessities. If you put that money toward a vacation fund instead, you’ll be off on an awesome vacation in no time.

You might also like: Two tips for successful budgeting (that no one talks about!) 

Sample Budget

The best kind of budget, in my opinion, is one that is 0-based. This means taking all of the money that you have and giving it a job. A very basic example of this is making $2500 in a month. This means you have $2500 to designate in your budget. Let’s say your expenses are as follows:

  • Rent: $850
  • Utilities: $300
  • Food: $400
  • Gas: $100
  • Household items: $100
  • Car payment: $200
  • Insurance: $100

This is just an example

Again, this is a very basic example, but the necessities listed here come up to $2050. This means that there is $450 leftover. It’s good to budget a small amount toward unexpected expenses, so you can put $100 in that category. I recommend building an emergency fund (Dave Ramsey suggests at least $1000) prior to a vacation fund, so for this example I will assume that you have already done that. In our YNAB app, we also designate money for Christmas, car repairs, a new car fund, and of course, the vacation fund. After the $100 for miscellaneous expenses, you have $350 left. I also suggest giving yourselves a little fun money, so let’s say that two adults in the home split $100 for “fun money.” The remaining $250 can go toward the vacation fund. At $250 per month, you can save $3000 in a year! 


Keep in mind that is is all about priorities. I’m not judging anyone for how they spend their money. It’s their money, not mine! We’re simply asked how we’re able to travel so often, and this is the simple answer! We don’t really make more than the people who ask us this question, it’s all about how we prioritize it. Maybe you’ve been spending too much on going out to eat, clothes, or manicures. You’ll have to cut back on those things, but the end result is worth it. The “fun money” will help keep you in check. Having that fun money allows you to still do some things you enjoy, while prioritizing the vacation.

I hope that this post was helpful to you in figuring out how to save for a vacation! If you’d like to see more posts like this one, please let me know in the comments below. I write lots of post about budgeting, frugal living, and saving money on travel. Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter so that you don’t miss a things. You can also check out the full budgeting series here. Don’t forget to use the share buttons to share this post with your frugal friends, or pin it for later!


This is genius! How to save for a vacation. The simple idea of budgeting to make travel a priority. If you're wondering how to save for a vacation or how to afford a vacation, check this out!

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *