How to Plan a Vacation on a Budget: 12 Tips for the Vacation of Your Lifetime

Among Americans in 2018, 55% of workers reported that they didn’t use all their vacation days. It meant that over 768 million US vacation days in that year went to waste. It was a time when most people took their vacation days for granted.

Now, the situation is different. 

If you want to make the most out of your vacation days, this is the guide for you. We understand that not everyone can go on a luxury vacation to freshen up and rejuvenate.

Keep reading to learn how to plan a vacation on a budget.

1. How to Plan a Vacation on a Budget: Understand Your Budget First

One of the first things to do when you’re planning inexpensive luxury vacations is to know and understand your budget well. Having a good idea of your limits will later help maximize them for your vacation. 

It also helps to identify the reasons for your vacation. Do you plan to celebrate an anniversary, rejuvenate at a beach, or immerse yourself in a new culture? Find out your expectations for the trip and the specific things you want to do on it.

Knowing these things helps you find alternatives that stick to your budget. For example, your goal is to experience an underwater adventure. Instead of going to popular places for these activities, look for cheaper alternatives.

2. Find Lesser-Known Vacation Spots With the Same Atmosphere 

Speaking of alternatives, you don’t need to go to Bali, Hawaii, or Palawan for a memorable vacation. Instead, look for other alternative places that offer similar experiences at lower prices. These places are less popular but offer the same atmosphere.

Let’s say you want to celebrate an anniversary with your partner in a bungalow overlooking the ocean. You can find cheap options instead of going halfway around the world for the experience. Riviera Maya in Mexico or the San Blas Islands in Panama has similar offers that you can book at much lower prices.

3. Plan Your Vacation During the Off-Season

Another useful tip in planning a budget vacation is to set it during times when there are fewest tourists. Try doing this whether you’re going to the tropics, desert, mountains, or other places. Taking your vacation during the off-season can also help you spend less.

Some services cost less during the off-season. Some luxury destinations may even offer the same experiences at bargain prices. However, your enjoyment is at risk since off-season trips often mean the weather won’t be perfect.

For example, cruises are popular in mid-October even when it’s hurricane season. Another alternative is to visit a tropical country during its rainy seasons. This may even mean visiting a cold-weather location in winter or a warm-weather spot in the summer.

4. Start Planning for Your Vacation Early

This tip is one of the most popular but underrated when planning a vacation on a budget.

If you want to go on a luxury trip without doling out a lot of funds, start planning early. Plan for at least six months or a year before you go on the trip. Research everything you need to know as early as possible.

Planning a vacation can also improve your mental health. It applies even before you head out for your trip. It can be calming even to those who often feel anxious while traveling.

It can inspire and motivate you to save more money for a worthwhile vacation. Regardless, never go on a vacation without a proper itinerary. It seldom goes well otherwise.

5. Book Your Trip During Promo Periods

Find out the peak promotional season of your desired vacation spot. It allows you to find great deals for luxury vacations that fit your budget range. For example, cruise companies offer discounts from January to March because fewer people take vacations at that time.

6. Know What You Want to Do on the Trip

Most people go on vacation to get a break from the constant grind. However, this reasoning is already a given and is also quite abstract. How do you plan to replenish your mental, physical, and emotional well-being?

Do you aim to meet new people, spend more time with family or friends, or learn something new? While you count down the days until your trip, start listing the reasons you’re going on one. This can help you get a better picture of what to do on vacation and get the most out of your time. 

7. Set Price Alerts for Typical Vacation Expenses

Here’s another tip if you want to plan a vacation on a budget: set price alerts. Like subscribing to coupons and promos, it will help you learn about discounts and deals ASAP. You can do it for flights or cruise ship ticket prices, hotels, activities, or places that you want to visit.

It might blow up your email, but this trade-off is worth it when you find the right vacation spot for the best price. You may even get lucky and find luxury vacation spots or hotels at cheap prices. 

8. Use Credit Card Points on Chain Hotels

Did you know that you can use the points on your credit card to buy more than airline tickets? You can also use them for accommodations at luxury hotels. For example, you have points on a Chase Ultimate Rewards card that you can use to stay at a Ritz-Carlton hotel.

9. Become a Part of a House-Sitting Network

Another secret on how to plan cheap vacations is to become a house sitter. It may not sound like much, but it can help you travel the world without spending a lot of money. The catch is that you’d have to house sit during your trip.

You don’t need to leave your job to become a house sitter. You can offer your services whenever you have time. Once you have a client, you’ll travel to their house and take care of it while they’re away.

It won’t always lead you to vacation-worthy places outside of the country. However, it can expose you to new cultures, locations, and people. You may even get the chance to house sit multimillion-dollar homes.

10. Talk to a Professional Travel Agent 

Are you having trouble finding the right airline ticket promos, hotels, or locations?

If you’re new to this, you may not have the right resources to find a luxury yet cheap vacation spot. In this case, it’s okay to get professional help. For example, a travel agent can recommend this resort for its amenities and affordable prices.

Aside from accommodations, a professional travel agent can help with your itinerary. They’re also well-connected with various establishments at your destination. It means you’ll get discounts at certain restaurants when you opt for a travel agency’s help.

11. Organize Everything and Keep Things Organize

Another key tip in learning how to plan a vacation on a budget is to stay organized. Having proper organization will be less stressful and less costly for you in the long run. Plus, if you can organize a trip, you limit the need to buy things last-minute, which can affect your budget.

Once you start planning the trip, record and outline all the costs. It will help keep track of the amount of money you must save. It allows you to plan how much you can save in a day.

You can find a lot of Excel and non-Excel templates online for organizing your trip and the budget. If you’re more tech-savvy, you can download mobile applications on your smartphone. These are specific apps to help you budget and organize everything on your trip.

12. Choose One Thing to Splurge On 

The last step in this guide to planning a budget luxury vacation is to decide where you want most of your money to go. Make sure that this vacation item or factor should be something you’d enjoy splurging on. For example, you might splurge on a good and extravagant hotel.

Once you decide on what to splurge on, minimize your spending for everything else. For example, you’ll rent a car instead of traveling by taxi during your trip. You’ll eat at local eateries instead of going to high-end restaurants. 

Remember, you can splurge on anything. It can be a dinner event for a long-awaited anniversary or an activity you’ve been dreaming of. It can even include local and cultural food native to your destination. 

Plan the Picture-Perfect Vacation You Need Today

Planning a vacation by yourself isn’t easy. It takes a lot more work and time to get a luxury vacation on a budget. This is why you should involve the people who you’re going with on vacation in the planning phase.

Regardless, you now know how to plan a vacation on a budget thanks to our guide.

Do you want to continue reading about other similar topics? Feel free to see our other content today. We have more guides discussing the best vacation spots, budgeting for a trip, and more.