How To Afford An Epic Vacation On A Less Than Epic Budget [Part Deux]

Amanda Oliver • inspiration

Budget Vacations

Hello again! It’s Amanda from The Color Coded Life and if you have been checking out around the blog, you may have seen my first post of vacation tips on how to work the “shoulder seasons.”

Well, that post got me thinking more about traveling, and I haven’t been able to stop! As I’ve mentioned before, my eyes are always MUCH bigger than my wallet. And while I don’t need full luxury, room service and the Ritz on my trips, I also feel like I’m past the age of sleeping six to a room in a youth hostel.

So I wondered if it was possible to REALLY travel (not like visiting your parents or relatives or something easy like that) with limited means. I have been doing some digging and will be presenting some of the best advice I have found. Hopefully, these ideas and lists will provide you with the motivation to get your #worldtraveler on!

As my mother in law likes to say “Planning Makes It Happen” and the best step by step guide comes from Ready for Zero, which shows you how to plan so that you can effectively save, budget and afford a vacation.

Here’s the cliff notes version:

Step 1 - How To Afford An Epic Vacation On A Less Than Epic Budget

Try to temper some of your OHMAIGAWDIWANTTOGOEVERYWHERENOW into a more tangible goal of a specific city – this helps you know the who/what/where/why of budgeting. You can also do what the hubby and I did and make a whole list (and yes, ours is LONG) but that way you have a list to work from each time the travel bug hits.

Step 2 - How To Afford An Epic Vacation On A Less Than Epic Budget

Start budgeting your household finances to make sure you won’t go into debt to afford this trip. If you need help getting your finances on fleek, you can check out this post I wrote a few weeks ago to help.

Step 3 - How To Afford An Epic Vacation On A Less Than Epic Budget

This part requires some research. Remember that there are a number of components that go into this calculation, including:

  • Airfare (If you’re flying)
  • Gas (If you’re driving)
  • Food
  • Public Transportation
  • Lodging
  • Snacks
  • Shopping (Because let’s be honest – you will be shopping!)
  • Visiting attractions (Admission fees, etc)

A few tools you can use to do this (again, thanks to Ready for Zero):

If you’re flying… you can begin by mapping out destinations within your budget on Just type in your budget, your intended travel dates, and filter your results on the map. This is a great visual way to see where you can afford to fly and also when in the year you’re most likely to encounter cheaper flights.

If you’re driving… be sure to include the cost of gas. Use a Fuel Cost Calculator and add these fuel costs to your overall budget.

Step 4 - How To Afford An Epic Vacation On A Less Than Epic Budget

Are you planning this trip for 2 months from now or 12 months from now? That will determine how much you need to save each paycheck for the trip. (Although if you are flying – you need a bit more than 2 months to purchase that ticket!)

Step 5 - How To Afford An Epic Vacation On A Less Than Epic Budget

Yes, that $6 Starbucks or $12 pair of Target sandals aren’t that much in isolation – but add it up, and you will be chipping away at your travel goal. I’m not saying have no fun and do nothing to afford your trip – but keep a picture of your selected locale in your wallet (I taped it over where my driver’s license goes) so that every time you pull out your wallet to buy something, it will remind you what you’re saving for.

Some other ways to keep an eye on costs and reduce them?

  • Use Kayak’s Price Forecasting Tool – it will email you changes in price for flights on your selected days/airports
  • Look at later and earlier times to fly in and out, as well as neighboring airports
  • Remember that the cheapest days to fly are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays.
  • Supposedly, the best day to purchase flights is on a Tuesday.

Step 6 - How To Afford An Epic Vacation On A Less Than Epic Budget

Post images of your vacay locale around your workspace, kitchen, wherever to keep you motivated. Remember what you’re working for!

I hope you get to take that dream vacation soon! Come back and let me know how it goes!


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