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Sunday, June 26, 2011

How to go on your Dream Vacation

The "Dream Vacation" is always an expensive vacation.  It's always far fetched and light years away.  The reason it's so far from reach is because the "Dream Vacation" is just that, a dream.  To make it a reality it needs to be your number one focus.  You need to find out exactly how much it will cost and how you will get there.   The Honey and I are planning our (her) dream vacation to Disney World / Universal Studios.  This is how we achieved or goals.

1.  Find out your Daily Expenses
Once you find out how much you are spending every month you can find out how much you actually need to survive and how much you can save every month.  It also lets you cut some things out if you don't really need them.  For a unique way on how to figure out your monthly expenses (including annual payments), please see my post on Where Did My Money Go?

2.  Find out the Minimum Cost of the Trip
After finding out where you are in terms of finances, now you can find out where you need to go.  Plan your trip as if you are going.  Pick the dates you will be traveling and use the internet to find out airline and hotel tickets.  The best website for this is trip advisor.  They compare costs from multiple airlines, combination of airlines, length of trip, etc.   Also include costs such as the cost to get into theme parks if you are planning to visit any, museums, shows, etc.

Don't forget to include food cost estimates.  For example, if you are traveling to Disney World and are planning on purchasing the meal plan, include that.

3.  Find out the Cost of Your Trip
In this step find out the cost of what you think you will spend.  The previous step was all about getting there and being able to stay there for X amount of days.  This step is the cost of the actual vacation spending.  For example, if you usually bring home gifts for people, add that cost here.  If you usually buy so much soveniers, try to find out what kind of souveniers you think you'd want to get.  From there research or estimate the cost of these items.  We live in a world where everything is online.  So for us, finding out what was in the Disney World store wasn't too hard.

4.  Evaluate
Now that you know the general cost of your vacation and how much money you have right now, it is time to evaluate if you can go without going broke.  If you currently do not have enough saved, Step #1 can show you how much you can save every month.

If you can come close, but don't quite have enough before the time you picked, it's time to look for savings.  read on.

If the cost of the trip will take years to save up to, you have some thinking to do.  You can either postpone your vacation or you can make some cuts and try to make some side income.  There is a last resort where you can volunteer for a local organization that is planning on going to the location you want to visit.  Once in their organization you can help them fundraise and get to travel for a much cheaper cost.

5. Savings
If you're close to going on your trip, but not quite there, you can try to find deals and cut corners here and there.

  • Sign up to newsletters.  Airlines offer specials like $60 one way tickets to various cities throughout the US.  If you sign up to their newsletter or the location you are visiting, you may get a surprise email that will allow you to travel.
  • Sign up for Quibids and try for the $250 American Airlines Gift Card
  • Sign up to Airline Miles programs like credit cards, affiliate partners, and even get miles for just searching the web.
  • If you're going to a popular location like Disney World, you can find many sites that give you tips and tricks in saving money, going to things with the best values, etc.

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