10 Ideas On How To Plan A Budget For Your Vacation Without Depleting All Your Savings

The first step towards any getaway is knowing how to plan it financially
how to plan a friendly budget for your next vacation
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Anyone who has ever traveled on their own will tell you that going on vacation without a pre-planned budget is like fishing without bait; it just won't work. And based on my recent road trip experience, I now know better as an experienced solo traveler.

Upon heading out, my parents warned me of the expenses, of not only the food, but also the accommodations, where I'd be sleeping, and even some unexpected expenditures along the way.

I learned many things on my journey that would've benefitted me at the start, some of which would have left my bank account a little less depleted.

Here are the 10 tips for first-time travelers who would prefer to burn stress, not dollars.

1. Do NOT wing sleep accommodations

While that may seem obvious, let me just say it will not help you in sticking to a budget. You could end up spending way more than you planned on, which can deplete the funds that otherwise could have gone towards local food fare.

When planning my road trip, I did not consider how draining four or more hours of driving each day would be. My original plan was just that, to drive from state to state without considering just how much time I'd like to spend in each of those places.

Do NOT wing sleep accommodations
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I ended up canceling some of my Airbnb reservations, a few of which did not have cancelation flexibility, and I was left $100 poorer because I did not think before reserving. 

My advice is to do the opposite of what I did; research the places you plan on visiting in-depth. There may be hidden sights that you just missed because you were focused more on the get-up-and-go rather than taking in each location.

By and large, where and how long one sleeps plays a big role in vacations, which is exactly why it is worth considering all possibilities beforehand, or at least opt for cancelation flexibility when in doubt.

2. Hostels are a budget's best friend

The idea of sleeping alongside a bunch of strangers is not something that turns many people on. Believe me, I know, but that doesn't mean hostels aren't worth considering when in regard to a budget.

In comparison to the other locations I stayed at during my road trip, the hostel I chose was approximately twenty dollars cheaper a night than what I would have spent at a private residence, and that was in the middle of Philadelphia.

Hostels are a budget's best friend
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Staying in a hostel is a pleasant experience, as it gave me the means to recharge and regain my stamina in order to take in the world before me. Furthermore, the hostel allowed me to meet some nice people.

My sister tipped me off, claiming that hostels are a great place to meet potential friends. I met this one really nice fellow from Arizona who was also staying at the same hostel, and we had quite the time chitchatting, which is what motivated me to stay positive for the duration of my travels.

There is value in choosing a hostel over a hotel or motel, not just in terms of the money saved, but also the chance to meet new, interesting characters that have the potential to become lifelong friends.

3. Get a personal vehicle or a rental car

Given the circumstances that come with vacationing, one would assume that a car is necessary for getting around. Though buses, trains, and planes can prove useful, they come with just as many difficulties as benefits.

During one of my Lyft rides, the driver told me of a woman she picked up who was stuck at her bus station for more than six hours because the driver of her bus nodded off without requesting a substitute.

getting a rental car
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As a result, that woman was unable to visit her family like she originally planned, and from what my Lyft driver knew, that passenger and the others who required the bus for transportation were not issued refunds.

The money lost from such an occurrence really irks me, given that some of those people, that woman included, likely took unpaid time off from work to travel. Though I have a car of my own, I can still feel for these individuals.

The ability to drive is a skill many would find useful when traveling, given the unpredictability of public transportation and the companies that run those establishments.

4. Consider all ride options when visiting big cities

Chances are if you decide to visit a metropolitan area, you're going to have some difficulty navigating the local highways and byways. Not all roads are created equal and jumping from one state to another only complicates matters.

Since I was traveling on my own, and I had my car secured wherever it was I stayed at the time, I would often hail Lyft for a ride, say if I wanted to get drinks and spoil myself.

Consider all ride options when visiting big cities
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Since I found myself trying to save as much money as I could, however, I opted for the "wait and save," option, which was only a few dollars cheaper per trip, but I was never in a rush to go anywhere, so I figured "why not?"

Asides from being cheaper, given that not all the places I wanted to visit were right next to where I was sleeping, I found myself with more funds than I would have originally spent thanks to this service, which I was able to put towards souvenirs and other novelties.

No matter the destination, one can find benefit in getting around as cost-efficiently as possible. In doing so, those dollars saved can be put to better use during a trip.

5. Always consider the WHEN and WHERE while planning a trip

In the heat of Summer, everyone is traveling, as these are the ideal conditions for taking in the sights and sounds while letting off steam. Yet, depending on where one chooses to go, Summer may not be the best time for a getaway

In countries like Australia, a road trip would not be ideal during this time of year, as this is their Winter. Traveling while on vacation is a headache, but cold weather only adds to the frustrations.

Always consider the WHEN and WHERE while planning a trip
Prime description of the Queen City

Cold climates can result in even more funds being wasted, as car tires do not hold up from the drop in air pressure. Aside from that, road conditions are even more treacherous, from black ice, but also the salt eating away at the carapace of your precious vehicle.

Nobody likes driving in Winter, so unless you want to blow your funds on a new paint job and frequent tire refills, I'd advise against taking a trip anywhere there's snow unless you can find another means of conveyance.

For the most part, those traveling during peak vacation season will already have decided on a destination that is not a nightmare to go through, but it's always worth noting the local climate when planning any sort of travel.

6. Give tours a chance when planning a trip 

They say you gotta crack a few eggs to make an omelet, which I learned myself during my grand journey across these United States. Tours offer the chance to learn about lesser-known attractions while already on the prowl.

When I was in Nashville, Tennessee, visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, I also purchased tickets for the Studio B Tour, which allowed me to visit the same location Elvis Presley once recorded his unforgettable tracks.

piano studio
Elvis Presley Studio B piano

Thanks to my kind tour guide, I learned of a little joint called "The Listening Room Cafe." My sister told me I could not depart the Music City without seeing a country music show, and that venue did not disappoint.

Had I not attended the tour, I never would have discovered The Listening Room on my own, and I would have been left with only what I overheard as I traversed Nashville's Broadway. 

Tours offer the opportunity to visit locales that may slip under the radar for some while on the move. In the long run, planning to be on a tour may allow a vacationer to spend less money than originally planned thanks to newly discovered venues, which might be cheaper than the original route.

7. Do NOT plan on trying new recreational drugs

While it might sound tempting to live a little and indulge in substances that are not legal where you're from, I would highly advise against such an idea.

A friend of mine who recently came home from vacation tried candies containing THC (the chemical in cannabis that makes you high) for the first time, and he had an awful experience with it. 

Do NOT plan on trying new recreational drugs
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Upon consuming three of the gummies, which contained 60mg THC apiece, he could hardly stand up without having to support himself on the wall, and he was shaking like a leaf the whole time, from the nervousness this substance gave him as well as the impact it was having on his nervous system.

Though a lot of people rely on cannabis to relieve their anxiety and improve their mood, there are those who will experience the opposite effect. My friend was so scared, and he decided to take the edibles the night before he planned to head home, for some reason. 

Any number of things can go wrong when one tries recreational drugs, but doing so while traveling only adds another layer of awful. 

8. Do NOT restrict research to the internet

While there are those out there who will try and trick you into spending even more money during vacation, wherever it is you end up, some of the locals can be of constructive assistance for saving money.

While at the North Market in Columbus, Ohio, I met lots of kind people who tipped me off to restaurants and other establishments that offered not only different ideas for food than I originally had but also were much cheaper.

north market ohio
North Market in Columbus, Ohio

These savings came not from coupons, but rather the idea of Southern hospitality and its mid-western equivalent, which is not a complete myth, which I have experienced first hand.

Not to toot my own horn, but on several occasions, my charisma and humorous demeanor allowed me to earn discounts on food and drink while eating out. Some of the places I originally planned on visiting did not seem keen on sparing expenses for those with a sharp tongue, but luckily the places I ended up visiting seemed much more flexible when it came to charm.

Having the courage to speak up about oneself while enjoying local attractions on vacation is beneficial to one's wallet because of hidden deals and kind individuals who want to give back to those who respect the work done there.

9. Plan on bringing snacks along for the trip

Plan on bringing snacks along for the trip
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Like it or not, you may not have the funds necessary to eat out every single night. Though vacations are a perfect opportunity for letting loose and enjoying the splendors of newly discovered places, there will be times when your wallet would like a break.

Before heading out, I bought a bunch of snacks in bulk, the stuff you would typically expect; nuts, chips, water, things that are dense in carbohydrates to keep the mind going, and also gum.

While on long drives, I would find myself in need of some sort of stimulation. For those occasions where I wasn't hungry or wasn't craving anything in particular, I would pop in a piece of spearmint gum to prevent my senses from dulling.

Of course, I would make sure to eat before driving when I could, but that only kept me satiated for so long, and gum allowed me to keep focus during arduous drives.

Food is fuel, but the amount of money spent on it is equally as draining as hunger and can prove unsatisfying after the check comes.

10. When in doubt, ask friends and family members for ideas when planning a trip

Before my trip, I had several people, my parents as well as some friends, and also my siblings, tell me that a road trip has just as many negatives as positives.

When planning my trip on My Maps, the distances to each destination seemed much shorter than they actually were, and mileage aside, the unpredictable terrain came with its own set of challenges. 

While my car did hold up for the duration of the trip and made it back home in one piece, there was so much to consider that I did not before the lengthy drive. I have friends from some of those states I passed through that I should have asked for advice before proceeding with my trip.

In addition to unstable road conditions, I was unaware that certain states had specific regulations when it came to just driving through, such as leaving your headlights on in construction zones, or not being required to move aside for stopped emergency vehicles.

The internet is convenient for doing research about trip destinations, but there are unpredictable factors that go into vacations, and thinking local first can prove useful for those times of uncertainty.

Only you can decide when and where to plan your vacation, but sticking to a pre-planned budget is even more important, as that is the deciding factor that will make or break your good times out.

I'm just the average bear trying to find his place among other aspiring writers. Also please consider following me on Twitter @good_wickham

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