So you actually booked the trip. You took your plans out of the group chat, bought the tickets, and Venmo-requested all your friends — a binding contract. Maybe you and your partner are finally taking that relationship-defining trip. Maybe you’re traveling solo — good for you! Pick your poison. Whatever your journey, planning a vacation is not a job for the faint of heart.
The most stressful part: managing the finances. Sure, there’s the strain of choosing your outfits, packing well, and simply getting through the airport. Anyone who recently survived holiday travel will understand. But before all that, you must budget for your dream vacation. If you don’t, it’ll never get off the ground.
Most expenses are obvious: flights, hotels, luggage. But what about when you’re on the trip? You want to enjoy your vacation without pinching pennies. But you don’t want to come home to a credit card bill that turns your stomach.
Luckily, there are smart ways to start saving for your next vacation without sacrificing the low-stress vibes. Here’s what you need to know:
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Credit Card Fees
Long before you even leave your home for the airport, make one important call: to your bank. Make sure you understand their policy on travel fees. If you discover you’re in for a slew of international fees, consider opening a card with travel benefits instead of travel penalties.
Generally, I sabotage my trip before it starts by buying a hoard of overpriced, high-caloric airport snacks. It’s my fatal flaw, my toxic trait. But learn from my mistakes and carry your snacks with you. It saves time, stress, and money. This also keeps you from late-night snacking in the evil, hotel mini-bar.
I buy my snacks in bulk so I always have them for home and my holiday traveling. And in the spirit of not gatekeeping, my favorite snacks for travel include:
- Partake Cookies
- Green Mustache Cheddarish Vegan Crackers
- LesserEvil Snacks Vegan Cheese Cheese Puffs
- Golde De-Bloat Ade (not a snack but a must-have dietary supplement)
Track Your Spending
It’s easy to get carried away on vacation. You hop around all the attractions, swiping your card at every passing gift shop and cafe. You lose track of how much you’ve spent, only for the harsh reality to hit when you get home.
Curb the mindless spending with an app that tells it like it is: Meet Cleo. Cleo is like the voice of your most brutally honest, financially savvy friend in your ear. It tells you just how much you’ve spent and how little remains in your bank account. If you’re getting ahead of yourself, try Cleo.
Resist Souvenir Shopping
I don’t know who needs to hear this but: your friends don’t need those random souvenirs you picked up at the local tourist trap markets. Neither does your apartment. While tiny, cheap tchotchkes can be fun and camp — think: Timothee Chalamet’s Eiffel tower key chain on the red carpet — don’t splurge on souvenirs. And definitely don’t buy anything you can’t fit in your modest carry-on.
Instead, take a lot of pictures. Make them more real, more special, more tactile by carrying a digital camera and printing out actual photos for you and your loved ones to enjoy.