How to Save for a Vacation Without Breaking the Bank

A family walk along a beach while on vacation.
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You’re ready for a vacation, but is your bank account?

Rising inflation and increased travel demand have contributed to eye-popping prices for flights, accommodations, meals and more. You may be left wondering how you can possibly save for a vacation.

Below, we offer tips on how to find additional funds to pay for your travel desires, and how to save those funds specifically for travel rather than spending them while at home.

3 Strategies to Save for Your Next Vacation

If you’re saving for a large expense like a trip, it’s imperative you put that money somewhere it can earn additional cash or be safe from your spending binges. A dream vacation is a solid motivation to create a savings system.

These three money-saving strategies will help you fund that dream vacation in no time.

1. Open a Dedicated Vacation Bank Account

One easy way to save for a special trip is to open a dedicated vacation savings account. If you choose a high-yield savings account, your money will grow while you’re looking forward to your trip. For example, when you sign up for a Capital One 360 Performance Savings Account, you’ll earn 4.25% APY on your account balance.

You also can open a savings account at your local bank, but if you go with an online bank, you’ll be less likely to withdraw the money.

Set up automatic deposits into the account, and, with a little restraint, leave that money there until it’s time for your trip. Bulk up your account balance by depositing any $1 bills or $5 bills that you receive as change from everyday purchases. Funnel any extra money — like a work bonus or birthday cash — into your vacation fund as well.

If you have a side hustle, sign up for automatic deposits. Or, deposit the money directly to the vacation account so you aren’t tempted by seeing the extra funds in your regular bank account.

2. Create a Savings Goal

If you budget for your trip in advance, you don’t have to spend time stressing over your spending while you’re on vacation. The easiest way to do that is to set up a sinking fund.

Begin by researching the costs of your expected expenditures, such as airfare, rental cars, gas, hotel stays, meals, souvenirs, special excursions and tickets to attractions or events. After totaling those costs, you’ll have an estimation of how much you’ll need to save.

Now work backwards to reach your savings goal. Divide your estimated vacation cost by the number of months you have before taking your trip to figure out how much money to save aside each month. For example, if you’re taking a $2,400 vacation a year from now, you’d need to save $200 a month to fund your getaway.

If your vacation date isn’t set in stone, you could figure out how much you’d like to save monthly and divide your total estimated vacation cost by your monthly savings amount to figure out when you can afford to take your trip. Using the $2,400 vacation example, if you could only afford to save $150 a month, you’d have the funds for your trip 16 months from now. And if you need a little help calculating all the costs for your vacation, check out this online sinking fund calculator.

3. Kick Paycheck Temptation

Resisting the urge to spend as soon as your check hits is easier said than done. With your bank account dwindling over two weeks, it feels like the money slips away the moment it appears. Use an app called EarnIn to get early access to your paycheck. This way it will feel easier to put some of it in your vacation fund. 

Just link your bank account to verify you’re employed with a consistent paycheck, and you’re good to go. You can transfer up to $100 a day (or up to $750 per pay period) to your linked bank account. When payday comes, whatever you transferred from EarnIn is automatically repaid, plus optional tips and fees. You won’t be charged any interest, and there are no mandatory fees**.

A woman lounges in the water.
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8 Ways to Make Extra Money for Your Trip

Strategizing how you’ll save money for your upcoming vacation is just half the battle. Making extra money or finding smart ways to free up some of your cash will get you there sooner.

Saving up for a big trip isn’t always easy, but these ideas should help you pad that vacation savings account and have your trip already paid for before you leave home.

1. Pick Up a Side Job

To come up with extra cash, you may need to pick up extra work. There are side gigs that can add to your travel budget without taking up all of your free time at home.

Look for ways to earn extra money outside your regular job, whether they’re more traditional (like tutoring or waiting tables) or a bit less orthodox (like reselling shoes or getting paid sleep). Side jobs help bring you one step closer to affording your dream getaway.

Working these side jobs may mean sacrificing your free time for a while, but it will help make your vacation possible.

2. Sell Your Stuff

If you’re into vacations, you know that life is about experiences, not stuff. Especially when your stuff can put cold, hard cash in your pocket.

If you have unused items around your home you can sell stuff online or find places to sell your used clothing. Check your attic, too — that old Nintendo system might be worth more than you think.

3. Make Your Credit Card Work for You

Consider using a credit card that accumulates airline miles for all of your regular expenditures throughout the year. Come vacation time, you could be flying for free.

Another option is to sign up for a travel credit card to earn rewards that you can put toward your next trip. (Just make sure to ask yourself these five questions before opening a new credit card for the rewards.)

4. Cut Back on Your Food Budget — And Other Expenses

Food is a huge monthly expense for many households. Shave a little off the top and in no time, you’ll notice you’ve got some extra cash to put toward your getaway.

money app called Cleo can help. The cheeky chatbot is programmed to track your spending so you can spot bad money habits. Cleo can round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and save the difference or to “fine” you for overspending at Target. Whatever saving technique you choose, she’ll automatically transfer that money into your savings account (aka travel fund) each week.

A man delivers food to a person while sitting in his car.
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5. Get Paid to Share Your Opinion

One of the best paid survey sites we’ve found is Survey Junkie

You earn points for answering questions like, what kind of laundry detergent you use, or if you prefer Pepsi or Coke. Many people accumulate enough points to request a check within a few hours. 

It’s free to join by visiting Survey Junkie and clicking the “Join Now” button.

You also can sign up for a free account with InboxDollars. They’ll send you short surveys every day, which you can fill out while you you watch TV or wait for your cookies to be done baking. And a site called Kashkick also gives you money for answering survey questions, but also for playing games, watching videos and reviewing things.

6. Make Money With Your Home

Move a little extra money to your vacation account each month by listing space in your home on Airbnb.

Even if you don’t have a dedicated room available, you can get creative with your Airbnb listing by hosting people in a tent in your backyard or letting guests crash on your couch. You could also rent out your entire home, stay with a friend or relative and split the profits with them.

And if you’re not interested in renting out your space, you can also use the app to create Airbnb experiences for travelers. Experiences can range from art, nature, entertainment, sports, food and drink — anything that gives visitors a fun way to get a taste of your hometown.

7. Spend Less on Your Car Insurance

Your instincts are likely correct — your car insurance company is overcharging you. You can spend hours, or even days, researching your options and new quotes. You can also use sites like Insurify, which shows you all your options at once to make sure you’re getting the deal that works best for you.

8. Find Deals on Outdoor Equipment

If your vacation involves costly items like skis, snowboards, kayaks, tents and more, consider buying used rental equipment, timing your purchase for outdoor gear deals and hunting in thrift stores to cut down on the cost. Some helpful websites for purchasing second hand outdoor equipment are Facebook Marketplace, Next Door, and Gear Trade.

Also, consider buying and reselling gear at your destination. Who knows, you may even come home with a little money in your pocket.

**EarnIn does not charge hidden fees for use of its services. EarnIn does not charge interest on Cash Outs. Restrictions and/or third-party fees may apply, see for details.

Sarah Kuta is an education reporter in Boulder, Colorado. Contributors Kent McDill and Caroline Gaspich and former senior writer Nicole Dow contributed to this article.