Winter is a time when some dream about soaking up the sun on an exotic island, while others get ready to hit the slopes at their favorite mountain resort. Whether you’re a beach bum or a snow bunny, one of the biggest obstacles can be coming up with the funds to pay for your dream getaway. But, with a little forward planning and commitment, you can turn your vacation daydreams into reality.

As you begin your vacation preparation, consider the following tips for an effective vacation savings plan:

  • Do Your Research: Just like any project you’ve worked on or any purchase you’ve made, it’s important to do your research to come to a solid decision. After you identify your dream destination, browse travel websites, personal travel blogs and more to get a sense of things to see and do, and the costs associated with those activities.
  • Plan Ahead: Think about your trip to set your financial expectations. Will you be travelling with others or by yourself? Are you travelling out of the country where the currency is different? What is the exchange rate? It’s important to think of any relevant expenses, including travel, accommodations, dining, souvenirs, and extracurricular activities you’d like to do. Consider breaking down each expense into its own category to budget accordingly.
  • Create a Budget: Open a dedicated bank account for your vacation savings. A separate travel account fund will allow you to contribute a percentage of your income specifically toward your vacation, removing any temptation of dipping into the funds for any unexpected costs. Thanks to the ever-changing fin-tech landscape, mobile apps like Mint and other budgeting tools can help you track your progress and reach your goals. (Bonus: Tax refunds will be distributed soon. Consider contributing your refund to your vacation account!)

  • Identify Relevant Promotions:  Most credit cards offer some type of reward system, whether it’s more cash back on certain purchases or discounted prices for airline and hotel reservations. Take advantage of these credit card programs, especially since you will most likely be paying for your trip with your credit card. It’s also smart to sign up for email alerts from airline and hotel reservation platforms which often offer discounts and vacation packages.

No matter where your travels take you, consult a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional to identify an appropriate savings plan to meet your vacation goals. Like Frank Sinatra’s hit “Come Fly with Me,” you’ll be playing and having fun in no time.