5 Ways to Afford a Summer Vacation

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By: Jessica Chou

Everyone has that one friend who’s always bugging for a weekend getaway. As much as we love them and the idea of drinking margs poolside, we hit them with a ‘haha yea totally!” and move on. Because weekend getaways can get costly especially when they’re spontaneous and you’re “living your best life”.

Before your friend takes you up on your “haha yea totally” and books a stay at a fancy all-inclusive resort she saw on Instagram, here are a few ways you can actually plan a budget-friendly summer vacation. Because as hard as it is to snap back to reality after a vacation, it’s even harder when you have to go from eating ceviche in a cabana all day…to eating ramen.

Make an actual vacation budget

You know what they say. What you don’t know, can’t hurt you. Well, guess what. Whoever came up with this saying was probably filthy rich. In this case, what you don’t know can and will hurt you…when you check your bank account. A little planning goes a long way when deciding on a vacation. Take into account:

  • Airfare - We get it. You’re trying to be spontaneous here. But booking flights a few weeks out can save you a good chunk of money!

  • Lodging - Whether you’re staying at a hotel or Airbnb, lodging is one of the biggest costs, so try to split with a friend or two…or six.

  • Food & Drinks - Calculate approximately how much each meal will cost. Ex. $25 a meal (because we’re living our best lives after all) x 3 meals a day x 2 day getaway = $150 on food & drinks. Pro-tip: bring snacks.

  • Transportation - Are you taking a road trip? Getting a rental car? Ubering when you get to your destination? Taxi? Water bus?

  • Activities - Because maybe you’ll get bored of lying poolside and want to lie down on a massage table instead.

  • Souvenirs - Because all of a sudden you collect magnets.

Start a vacation fund

Maybe a staycation or road trip just isn’t going to cut it. You’re trying to get that all-white aesthetic on your Instagram…and you’re thinking Greece is the place to do it. Honestly, same. But a trip to Greece can easily cost thousands of dollars…which can’t really be a spontaneous cost for most people. Start putting money away every month for the trip - even if it’s $50. Not only will this help you afford the trip, but you’ll likely be able to save money on your trip because you’re planning ahead. If you’re planning a Greece trip a year from now, then you can start scoping out plane tickets and accommodations (since they tend to be cheaper the earlier you buy them!)

Consider package deals & Groupons

Yes, Groupons still exist. And yes, people still use them, and you should too. There are some great travel packages on Groupons, though be sure to read the fine print. Often times, they have blackout dates, but if your schedule is flexible, Groupon could be the way to go!

Alternatively, if you have a vacation spot in mind, check local hotel websites and see what kinds of package deals they offer. Hotels usually offer special discounts if you stay for more than a few nights.

Pro-tip: Pick up the phone and call the hotel to ask if they have any special deals! Sometimes, they don’t advertise all their deals online, but will offer you special rates or free upgrades over the phone.

Check out new hotels

Going off of the last tip, newer hotels will often offer introductory rates to attract guests, so be sure to do a quick Google search for new hotels in the area. Keep in mind, some hotels can be so new that there are very few reviews, so book with caution. Make sure you call the hotel and ask them how long they’ve been open, whether they’re still working on parts of the hotel, and what rates they can offer.

Split the costs with your friends

This is a no-brainer. If you’re traveling with friends, everyone should be responsible for their own costs. But this can get tricky when everyone’s in vacation mode and feeling generous.

  • Pro-tip: Pick one responsible friend (ideally, they’re good at math) to keep track of all the expenses. In the end, have them calculate the total cost of the trip and how much everyone owes. It really helps if one person is willing to pay for all the costs upfront and get reimbursed after the trip is over.

Vacations shouldn’t be stressful. They should be relaxing, rejuvenating, and fun! You shouldn’t have to go from chill to heart attack the second you come back and realize how much money you actually spent. With a little planning, you can afford that trip your best friend keeps texting you about. Now go on and respond. Don’t leave her on read.