Sometimes a big trip just isn’t in the cards. Sometimes it isn’t in the cards for the upcoming month, quarter, or even year. While that situation is definitely a bummer, there’s no reason not to take advantage of what’s around you. And I’m here to help you take the stress out of planning with an easy weekend vacation budget planner.
Big bonus: traveling locally is much easier to save for!
This is not a system I use every month – sometimes we decided to save some extra money or some months we just need to throw all our money at a bill to whittle it down as fast as possible.If we’re really lucky, some months we just happen to have extra money available to use.
Travel is possible, guys, it just takes a little finagling.
Ready to finagle?
Create a general spending budget for weekend tripsThe biggest part of this vacation budget planner is to create an easy benchmark amount for a weekend trip. This number should not only reasonably fit into your budget but will also be enough to actually enjoy yourself. Ready to figure out how much you need to save to have an epic weekend adventure?
My budget looks like this:
- 6% of your monthly salary
- Additional cost of 1-2 [experiences].
6% of your monthly salary
Why 6%? Well, because two days makes up about 6% of a 30-day month. While I’m sure no one spends their money equally across the days, I’ve found this to be a decent-enough benchmark to measure out a moderate splurge weekend. If more money is going towards savings or debt, reduce this number. Alternatively, if you’ve got extra fun money this month, you may want to allocate more.
That being said, I’d guess 6% is a comfortable number for most people.
Tack on extra for your favorite experiences
Love museums? Tack on the average cost of one or two museum entrance fees. Want to take a guided tour? Figure out a typical rate for your area and tack it on.
For me, it’s all about food. I try to do a little bit of research about where I want to eat, choose one mid-range and one higher-range meal, and then add the average cost of a meal at both places to my budget.
How I pull money from my salaryI follow three basic steps when saving for a weekend trip:
- Take out 6% of my salary right away.
- Cut out one luxury per week.
- Aim to earn 2-3 extra hours’ worth of money.
Take out 6% of my salary right away
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I have a specific savings account set aside for travel which is super handly when I’ve earmarked some of my salary for travel. (Occasionally this savings account has been a well-hidden envelope stuffed with money just because sometimes I like to go old school.)
Cut out one luxury per week
For me this is a pretty obvious one: food or coffee. Even on a very tight budget I usually have at least one lunch out or one coffee in the morning each week. (Let’s be honest, probably more.) By cutting out one of these luxuries each week by preparing food or coffee myself, I can save around $25 each month.
Not much, but that’s about 20% of my weekend trip budget for items that really aren’t necessary.
Aim to earn 2-3 extra hours’ worth of money
This used to be much easier for me since my previous job worked on a swipe in/swipe out system and they were always happy to have people stay later to help out. Now I’m paid for 35 hours of work regardless of how much I’m in the building or not.
Still, at nearly $15/hour, for me 2-3 hours of extra salary is about 1/3 of my weekend budget. That makes splurging on a weekend adventure sound much more feasible, right?
Exploit money-saving techniques
- Follow what’s cheap.
- Don’t pay for accommodations.
- Take advantage of last-minute opportunities.
Follow what’s cheap
Once I’ve chosen my destination I try to check out what’s going on for free (or at a reduced cost) in order to maximize the money I’ve saved. You can use this list of resources to find some great free or low-cost options from all over the world.
For deals on dining or experiences, I’ve become pretty dedicated to trawling Groupon for deals on activities I might otherwise say no to because of cost.
Don’t pay for accommodations.
Aside from travel costs, accomodation is by far the most expensive part of taking an overnight trip.
My solution? Don’t pay!
Check out Couchsurfing, the site that lets you meet up with people willing to host you for free for a night or two. Not only are the people on Couchsurfing generally really friendly (who else would be willing to host complete strangers?), but they’re also a treasure trove of ideas for what to do or see on your weekend trip.
Take advantage of last-minute opportunities
For hotels you can try Jetsetter for last-minute deals.
So now you’ve got a pretty simple weekend vacation budget planner! Now all you have to do is figure out where you want to go! Please share any great tips for saving money that you may have in the comments below!