Dreaming of ski slopes, sandy beaches, or historical ruins? Whatever your style, travel is an enriching life experience, but it can be costly.  If you haven’t started saving for your next vacation, now’s the time! With a little imagination, you can beef up your bank account and be ready to hit the road or beach in no time, without your bank account going into the negatives.
Here are 6 of our top tips to help you save up for your next vacation:

1. Open Up a Dedicated Vacation Bank Account

One easy way to save for a special trip is to take the amount you can save each week and put it into a dedicated vacation savings account. You can set up automatic payments, and, with a little intervention, leave that money there until it’s time for your trip.

If you choose an interest-bearing account, your money might even grow while you’re looking forward to your trip. We suggest opening a TFSA or Mutual Fund TFSA account – that way, your money will earn interest and you’ll be less tempted to withdraw it.

Once you’re on your way, you can use this same account to track how much you’re spending on your vacation.

Bonus savings! If you get a tax refund, a monetary birthday gift, or a bonus at work, save it! According to the CRA, 57% of early tax filers will be receiving an average refund of $2,093. That’s a great amount of money to put towards your next vacation! No matter how small the amount, it will help you reach your goal.

2. Create a Budget and Stick With it

Create a realistic budget and stick to it. You don’t have to stay home every single time your friends have a night out, but budgeting for entertainment will help you enjoy your leisure time while keeping your vacation fund safe. Include rent and hydro, groceries, toiletries, birthday gifts, car-related expenses, entertainment, etc., and include saving for your vacation! Make this a non-negotiable and contribute religiously. Keep your receipts and record your spending. It might seem tedious but it’s a surefire way to make sure you don’t overspend. Plus, after tracking your expenses for a few weeks, you might find some fat you could trim and put toward your vacation!

3. Slash Your Food Budget

For so many households — especially those with little ones or teenagers running around — food can be a huge expense. Cut back a little bit on the extras and in no time, you’ll notice you’ve got some extra cash to put toward your getaway.

  • Buy in bulk at stores like Costco and Bulk Barn, or shop at your local farmers’ market or flea market. If you have the space, try growing a fruit and vegetable garden with your kids!
  • Eat in more often. After a long day of work, it’s tempting to let someone else do the cooking (and cleaning up afterwards!), but those nights out and delivery meals really add up.
  • Shop more often. Sounds strange, right? Well, if your fridge is where food goes to die, you’re throwing away money every time something gets too old to eat. Instead of taking one major trip to the grocery store per week, consider making smaller trips, as is common in Europe. This will require some meal planning, but it will be well worth the savings and you won’t have anywhere near as much wasted food.
  • Cut out unnecessary items like pop and sugary treats (sorry, sweet-toothed friends). Keeping them out of your cart while you’re saving for your vacation helps your family get healthy and keeps more money in your bank account, plus saving for a vacation is great incentive to justify cutting back on junk food.

4. Get Your Credit Card Working for You

Consider using a credit card that accumulates something for all of your regular expenditures throughout the year. It could be Air Miles to help with flight costs, or PC Mastercard to help with the cost of groceries, or even the CIBC Tim Horton’s Double Double Visa to cover your coffee’s during the week (and you get a free item on weekends if you use the card during the month).

You can also earn tons of frequent flier miles without signing up for a credit card by shopping online, eating out, taking surveys and other methods.

Another option to consider is credit-card sign-up bonuses. There are some credit cards that give you thousands of free miles just for signing up!

5. Sell Some of That Unwanted Stuff

If you love to vacation, you know that life is about experiences, not material thingsEspecially when your unused stuff can put some cash in your pocket.

Try selling some of your clothes, purses or shoes to consignment stores, or even electronics you don’t use anymore, on sites like Kijijji or eBay. Check your garage too—you never know, there may be some hidden treasures there that could make you some quick bucks in a garage sale.

6. Get Yourself a Side Gig

Earning extra money outside your regular job will increase your income and the amount you can comfortably put away.

Consider trying out the sharing economy. Earn some extra cash by driving with Uber or Lyft, or by renting out a room in your home.  As an Airbnb host, you can make money while you’re away on that vacation you’ve been saving for! If earning income from Airbnb is for you, make sure you include the income and deductible expenses when you file your tax return.

As for side jobs, you could try something traditional like babysitting, or something a little less orthodox. Some people clean headstones or stand in line for tickets for extra cash. Look for short-term work opportunities related to the season. During winter, many retail employers hire seasonal workers to help with the holiday rush. In the spring and summer, look for businesses that need extra help, like landscaping companies. The sky’s the limit for side jobs that help bring you one step closer to affording your dream getaway.

Working a side job may mean sacrificing your evenings and weekends for a while, but it will help make your vacation dream a reality.

Just remember that if you have a part-time job, you’ll need to report the income to the CRA, and if you started your own side gig, you are self-employed, and that changes a whole lot more.

However you decide to save up we hope these tips work for you and would love to hear about any more you have on Facebook or Twitter!