The weather outside is frightful, but summer is so delightful and now that the shortest day is over, it is on its way. Summer brings holidays with it and so the dark days of winter could actually be a great opportunity to make plans for how to pay for them.
First decide what kind of holiday you want
Are you a beach lover or would you rather be enjoying the mountain air or cruising city streets? Are you someone who likes it hot or do you prefer to keep your cool? Do you thrive in crowds or need your own personal space? Write down everything you need to make a perfect holiday. Then make a list of “nice to haves” and give them a weighting. Finally make a list of anything you feel you need to avoid at all costs.
Second clarify when you can take your holiday
Those in work generally have to book holidays in advance and some employers can offer more flexibility than others. Those with school-age children will also have to work around their requirements. Holiday prices can vary significantly depending on the time of year, so those who can be flexible may be able to use this to your advantage.
Define your budget taking into account all cost
Set yourself a budget you have a realistic chance of being able to afford. Working on the basis that you will need to do some saving is absolutely fine, but if you set yourself too demanding a saving target you may find yourself facing some difficult decisions later.
Decide your destination
By thinking about what you need to make up a great holiday, rather than just looking at destinations, you put yourself in a position to discover options you might have overlooked if you would just thought about where to go. Do your research on the net to see where other people with similar interests and tastes have had enjoyable holidays and see which of these places are within your budget.
Double check your costs and add an allowance for unforeseen expenses
Think through your entire trip from start to finish and do your best to envisage any costs you could reasonably be expected to incur along the way. Then add on a bit extra for unforeseen expenses and insurance. (If you are travelling within the EEA make sure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card). Make sure your insurance covers you for any and all destinations you may visit and for any activities you may undertake. Remember that you and your insurance company may have different ideas about what constitutes a dangerous activity so be clear about what any given policy does and does not allow. Budget a reasonable amount for spending money.
Check your passport has enough time left on it.
Different countries may have different requirements regarding how much time your passport must have left on it before you are allowed entry. In any case it is probably a good idea to have at least some time left over after your planned return date in case of unforeseen circumstances. Checking this well ahead will avoid you having to use the passport office during their busiest period and possibly having to pay extra for express service.
Create a savings plan
Now that you know how much money you need, you will know how much money you need to save. It is therefore time to create a plan of how you are going to do it. You may be able to put away the money you need out of your monthly salary without needing to cut back on your regular expenses. Since it is the start of a new year, however, it could be an excellent opportunity so see where you could save money without really missing it, e.g. by cutting out subscriptions you hardly use or taking (healthy) snacks into work instead of using the vending machine.