Now’s the time to plan your December holiday. You get more choice, better prices, and you are able to budget.
With the specter of the December 2016 holidays still lurking in your bank statement, you might think that it is too early to start planning for the end of 2017. But actually, now is the ideal time. Why? Because you have at least 7 months to financially prepare for your end of year holiday. Also, you can take advantage of early booking discounts and cheaper flights, and make certain that you can get into your favourite accommodation. There is nothing worse than leaving the accommodation until the very last minute and then finding that your “sea view” is actually only visible from the top of a cupboard!
First, make a detailed list of what you will be spending. Costs will of course depend on where you will be going on your holiday, but over and above flights and accommodation, you might need to pay for some or all of the following:
- Visa charges. Not all international destinations require visas, but those that do can be costly.
- Travel insurance. Most tour companies will insist on comprehensive cover. Get the best that you can as medical costs in a foreign country can be very expensive.
- Food. This can add up, whether you are going to be self-catering or eating out.
- Entertainment and entry fees. You might want to go to restaurants, shows and other activities. And don’t forget about entrance to parks, museums and other attractions.
- Mobile charges. Be aware of the costs of using your phone for calls while you're overseas. Budget for it, as your first bill on your return can bring a nasty shock. Even on local holidays, your data bill might be higher, as you are not on your home or office wifi.
- Emergency fund. As well as the holiday expenses, budget something extra (say, 10% of the cost of the holiday), for any unforeseen emergencies.
Transport is one of the major costs of a holiday. Consider your options:
Driving to your destination is convenient, because you have your car at your destination. When you’re doing your budget, consider the petrol costs. Also, bear in mind that before you go you might need to have the car serviced and perhaps the tires checked and changed if required.
Another option if you are going to be enjoying a local holiday, is going by train and either taking your car on the train or hiring a car at your destination.
Flying is a big cost so it’s worth spending some time researching prices. Generally, the earlier you book the better. Circumstances do change, though, particularly if you are booking 6 months in advance. So before you spend your hard-earned money, make certain that you are aware of the cost of cancellation or flight changes. I recently learned this the hard way when I had booked on a special and then had to change the date. The cost of changing the flight was more than the price of the original ticket!
Start saving: Find ways to cut expenses, and put that money into your holiday fund. Going without your daily cappuccino, or the family’s monthly pizza night, is easier when you know the saving is going towards your holiday.
Stash any windfalls, like a cash-back payout from your insurance company or an income tax refund, in your holiday savings fund.
Buy now: If you know you’re going to need special items or equipment for your holiday, consider buying some of them in advance, especially if you can get a good deal. Get your hiking boots from the factory shop, or your swimming costume on the winter sale.
Holiday savings jar: Start a collection of change for spending money. Even the kids can contribute. Those R1 and R2 coins add up! Use the money you’ve collected to kick-start your holiday fund, even if it’s just for treats and spending money when you get there.
Buy now, pay monthly: The new kid on the block is the lay-bye holiday payment scheme. Companies like Fomo Travel offer potential holidaymakers the opportunity to pay off their holiday on an installment plan, thus making it easier for the traveler to keep control of finances. Choose an all-inclusive holiday package and a monthly payment plan that suits you.
If you use a credit card to pay for air tickets, then “repay” yourself every month. You don’t want to be paying off this year’s holiday in a year’s time.
There is nothing more relaxing that going away knowing that you have pre-paid for your entire holiday up front and that there will be enough spending money to enjoy your time away to the full.