How to make a vacation budget you can keep! 

Summer is here, and it’s time for your getaway.

While it’s great to get away for some fun in the sun, sticking to a budget is a must, even when on vacation. This year, attack your vacation with a financial plan you can actually keep by following these tips:

Rethink vacation

Before you start working on a vacation budget, consider an alternative to a conventional getaway that can provide an escape from real life without a prohibitive price tag.

  • Staycation. Spruce up a spare bedroom with scented hand towels, mini soaps and shampoos to give it a hotel feel. Sleep there during your “vacation” and spend your time trying out local attractions, festivals and restaurants you’ve always wanted to experience.
  • Swap houses. Have friends or family who live out of your area? Switch houses for a week. You can all get an inexpensive vacation.
  • Camping. If you have camping gear or can borrow it from a friend, camping can cost next to nothing and it can be a fantastic way to enjoy a rejuvenating break from the daily grind of life.

Create a budget

If you just want to splurge on a typical getaway, here’s how to create a realistic budget:

  • Review your savings. If you’ve been steadily saving up for your vacation, you’ll know how much money you have to spend. If you haven’t saved anything, consider an unsecured loan through Duke Credit Union and/or saving up until your vacation by trimming your discretionary expenses.
  • Prioritize. Before assigning dollar amounts to categories, pick what is most important to you on your vacation. List your priorities from most to least important for future reference.
  • Assign dollar amounts to big-ticket items. Choose and price a destination. Set aside money from your budget to cover what it takes to get there, as well as accommodations.
  • Divide and conquer. Assign a realistic dollar amount to your remaining categories. Include food, tickets to entertainment venues and attractions, gifts and souvenirs, transportation costs, and include some “miscellaneous” money for unplanned expenses.

Stick to your budget 

Now comes the hard part: sticking to your budget while on vacation.

Use your debit and/or credit cards wisely.  If you use cash, you’ll be forced to stick to your budget rather than  overspend.  Keep cards and cash secure at all times. 

You may want to consider taking a backup credit card.  This way, if another card gets lost, blocked or stolen, you will have an alternative card to make necessary purchases. 

Make advance reservations, when you can, this will give you fewer spending choices when you are away.

Finally, keep a copy of your vacation budget handy while you are away so you can pull it out whenever you come up against a spending challenge.

Don’t let your budget go on vacation!

Duke University Card

Pack a Backup Credit Card

If another card gets lost, blocked, or stolen you have an alternate card to make purchases.