It’s no secret that vacations are expensive. According to Business Insider, the average American spends $1,979 on summer vacations. If you already live your life on a budget, putting together this amount of money might feel out of reach, especially if you need to save for an entire family. Before you say goodbye to your dream of visiting Paris or Bangkok, consider creating a vacation fund for your next vacation. 

Plan Out Your Entire Vacation to Set Your Funding Goal

Before you start saving up for vacation by putting money into a jar or a savings account, you should establish a budget. If you don’t know how much your dream vacation will cost, how will you know how much you need to save?

This is where creating a vacation fund becomes fun. Browse travel websites and start writing down what time of year you’d like to visit, how long you want to stay and what activities you want to do. Factor in the cost of flights, booking a hotel and even renting a car to determine how much your vacation will cost. Make sure to include a budget for gas if you plan on driving – otherwise remember to set aside cash for public transportation, food, tourist attractions and souvenirs. Once you plan out your entire getaway, look at the total price and set this as your vacation fund goal. 

Now that you have a goal established, you can start saving up for vacation

Open a Special Savings Account Dedicated to Vacations

One of the first steps you should take in saving up for a vacation is opening a dedicated savings account specifically for your vacation fund. If possible, choose a savings account that offers a high-interest rate so you can make a few dollars here and there from interest. Having a dedicated savings account helps you resist spending the money in it. Simply deposit money and then forget about the account until you reach your goal. Don’t withdraw anything – using the money in this account only puts your getaway further out of reach.

Direct Deposit Part of Your Check Into Savings

If you receive direct deposits from work and your income currently goes directly into your checking account, talk to your payroll contact about splitting your direct deposit so part of it also goes into your savings account. If your income automatically goes into your savings account, you will soon forget that you even make this money in the first place. This is an easy way to save money without thinking about it.

Set Aside Part of Your Tax Refund

If you’re on track to receive a tax refund in the upcoming tax season, funnel part or all of your tax return into your vacation fund. Unless you need the money for essentials, depositing it directly into your vacation savings account will help you save up even faster.

Use Money-Saving Apps

One of the hardest parts of saving money is actually depositing it into your vacation savings account. Apps like Digit and Qapital automatically transfer money from your checking to your savings account based on an algorithm that determines how much you can afford to save without over-drafting your account. Qapital has a feature that can round up your purchases to the nearest $5 and deposit it into savings, or set a certain amount to move over only a weekly basis. 

Work a Side Job

If you already live on a budget or you’re willing to give up some free time, working a side job is an option. There are plenty of part-time and seasonal jobs out there to choose from. From becoming a server, bartender or barista to working at your favorite clothing store, you can choose a side job that will give you extra income and opportunities. Here’s a tip: When you set up your direct deposit, have each paycheck go directly into your vacation fund.

Set a Budget

Setting a budget for your household helps you save for a vacation – but it’s also just good financial responsibility. If you don’t already have a budget set, use an app like Mint or Goodbudget to determine your monthly budget. These apps allow you to set a budget for each category of spending from monthly bills to essentials like groceries or eating out. Play around with your budget to see how little you can live off. Once you determine your budget, you will have an idea of how much extra money you can contribute to your vacation fund every month.

Learn to Work the Credit Card Reward System

There are tons of credit cards out there offering rewards like cashback, hotel points or airline miles. If you learn to work the credit card reward system properly, you can use it to help fund part or all of your upcoming vacation. If you don’t already have a rewards credit card, do some research to see which one will give you the best return on investment. Most rewards cards have sign-up bonuses, so take that into consideration. To get the most out of your rewards card, use it to pay for everything in your life and then pay it off every month so you don’t incur interest charges. You’re essentially earning a free vacation by using a credit card responsibly.

Rent Out a Room in Your Home

If your home has a spare bedroom, a guest suite or granny flat – and you don’t mind a stranger staying in your home – rent it out on Airbnb, Vrbo or another property rental website and put the money you earn from it toward your vacation fund. Of course, make sure short-term rentals are legal in your area first! 

Eat Out Less

You can save a surprising amount of money by making your own meals. If you hate to cook, consider watching cooking videos online to brush up your skills. When you do eat out, you can save money by going during happy hour to take advantage of specials, or by sharing a meal. You don’t have to give up eating out – just be smart about it. Local publications may offer coupons for local restaurants to help you save even more money.

Drive for a Ridesharing App or Food Delivery

If you own a newer car with good gas mileage and you have a clean driving record, consider driving for a ridesharing app to earn extra money for your next vacation. Just a few rides per day can add up, and saving up for vacation will go by much faster. If you prefer not to drive with strangers in your car, you can still drive your car to deliver food using apps like UberEats or Postmates.

Cancel Subscriptions

Free up the funds to save for vacation by canceling non-essential subscriptions. Go through your bank statement and decide whether the money you spend on your monthly underwear subscription or fancy coffee is worth it. Do you really need a new magazine with recipes every month? Cancel any non-essential subscriptions you have and deposit the extra money into your vacation fund instead.

Pick Up Freelance Work

If you’re a writer, graphic designer, social media marketer, web developer, transcriber or have other useful skills, put them to use as a freelancer. Whether you want to find your own clients or apply for freelance positions at companies, just putting in a few hours per week of freelance work can really contribute to your vacation fund. Freelance work offers you the benefit of working from home so you don’t even need to leave your house to earn extra money.

Get Paid to Take Online Surveys

One last way to save up for your next vacation is by earning money by taking online surveys. Branded Surveys gives you different surveys from Fortune 500 companies who want to complete market research. You earn points for each survey you take – and every 1000 points earns you $10. You can take the surveys on your computer or from your phone while you’re waiting in line. As long as you answer your surveys honestly, you can earn money to put towards your vacation fund.

Saving up for a vacation is easy when you can get paid to take surveys on Branded Surveys. Create an account today to start earning money for your vacation fund!