Ever since I was small I’ve heard stories about how my grandmother scrimped and saved all year long in order to set aside enough money for a summer vacation. Once it was time, she packed a box full of food for her family of five and a cooler with the items needing refrigeration for the long trip. Everyone would pack their clothes and toiletries in a suitcase and load it, the food, and themselves in the family station-wagon and set off on a journey taking them from Nevada to Florida for two weeks. They did it numerous times and never went into debt even though they didn’t have a lot of money.
If you are thinking about taking a vacation like that, you have probably heard that you should pay off any debt you do have first. That’s great advice. But, you don’t necessarily have to completely forgo your vacation plans because you have some debt. There are ways to pay for a vacation without adding to your debt. Here are 8 ways to pay for a vacation without adding debt.
1. Create a Travel Fund
In order to travel and not take on additional debt, you could do what I do. Create a travel fund and set aside money regularly for future vacations. I contribute to my travel fund monthly, even when I don’t have a specific trip in mind.
If you already know where you are going to go and how long you would like to be gone you can begin to estimate your expenses. Check into transportation and lodging costs as well as entertainment to help you budget the right amount toward your travels. Don’t forget to add a little to your budget for souvenirs and gifts to take back to friends and family.
2. Take on a Side Hustle
When you have a goal in mind, it can be easier to work hard and stay focused on attaining that goal. Use that momentum to take on a side hustle or second job, whether permanently or just temporarily. It could be anything from babysitting and mowing lawns to waitressing, tutoring, dog walking, caring for an elderly person, cleaning an office building, and more. Figure out where your talents lie and what other people or employers need so you can fill the gap, add to your income, and turn your dream of a vacation into reality without piling on more debt.
3. Travel While You Work
One option that might gain you a vacation without adding debt is to take a job in the travel industry. Let’s say you have always wanted to see and vacation in Alaska. Perhaps you could take a job on a cruise line that offers Alaskan cruises. You may get some shore time that allows you to take in different sites and experiences while on the job. You definitely want to ensure you make enough to pay all of your bills back home including any debts to make it work, though.
4. Get a Job Overseas
This idea may not make sense or even be possible for some people. For example, if you have a spouse or children you might not be able to uproot everyone and take a job across the ocean in order to be able to see and experience other countries and cultures. However, if you are single it could offer you the opportunity of a lifetime. Of course, you need to check ahead of time to make sure you can get a job that will cover all of your expenses including any debt you have.
5. Shorten the Excursion
If you want to travel but don’t have a specific destination in mind, one possibility is to take a trip somewhere that’s not as far. Let’s say you want to go to a sunny location with a beach but it doesn’t matter where you go. You could easily take a vacation without racking up extra debt if you live close enough to make the trip by car in a day. Set aside money ahead of time and try to make your trip as frugal as possible. Make sure you have enough to cover three or four days lodging, food, and gas. You can take food with you to reduce your expenses further and look for cheap lodging at motels or with Airbnb.
6. Stay With Someone You Know
One of the other ways my grandmother was able to afford vacations without having a lot of money was by staying with family. Lodging costs for any trip you take can easily be one of the most expensive parts of your vacation budget. You can avoid part or all of those costs if you crash on a couch or air mattress on their floor rather than paying for a hotel room. Check ahead of time with family or friends to see if this is a possibility.
7. Pair Up
I recently took a week-long trip to California with a good friend of mine. We split our expenses for a rental car, hotel rooms, and gas, making the trip much more economical. We stayed in budget friendly lodging rather than five star resorts because we knew we wouldn’t spend much time in any of the hotels anyway because we were too busy going places and seeing stuff. By sharing some of the expenses with a friend, we were both able to take a vacation for far less money than if we had each gone alone.
8. Use Found Money
Another way to have a vacation without piling on extra debt is to use found money. If you don’t know that that is, found money is money you received throughout the year you weren’t expecting. One example of found money is a bonus from your job you weren’t expecting. Another might be a rebate from a necessary purchase. All of this money adds up and can help you to reach your vacation goals without going into debt.
There are many different ways to pay for a vacation without adding debt. When you are motivated and driven to take the trip you long for there are ways to make it happen.
Have you done any of these things to pay for a vacation? How do you save and pay for a vacation?