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The Sure-fire Way to Build on Your Family Travel Fund so You Can Afford Your Dream Vacation (Plus a bonus weekly savings worksheet!)

02/04/2020
Billy Gozum
Founder, Urban Tykes

It’s the start of the new year and I know, even this early, that the budgeting struggle is all too real. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably already internally low-key hyperventilating about the deluge of vacation pictures you’ll soon be seeing on your Facebook or Instagram feed. And as you infinitely scroll while you wallow with social media envy in your favorite pint of ice cream, you think to yourself, How the fork are they affording these flipping trips

stressed-mom-in-front-of-her-laptop

Photo by Alexander Dummer

Don’t worry, mama. You’re not alone. This is an unfortunate and ugly side effect of social media and I’m here to tell you, DON’T. GET. SUCKED. IN. People love showing the unicorns and rainbows, but most of them won’t show you what’s really under the hood–the credit card debt, the trust fund, the side hustles. You just see the end product: ultra-filtered images of near-perfection where the mom is laughing, the kids aren’t sulking, the diaper bag isn’t bursting at the seams, no one’s yelled “mom” for the millionth time, and no one’s melting down because they missed nap time or they need snack number 5.

Meanwhile, back in real life, you’re thinking about how much you should save each month for vacation, or how you even get started with creating a family vacation budget. 

Polling our Southern California moms, the most popular spring and summer break vacations for 2020 are Mexico, Las Vegas, Maui, Miami Beach, and The Bahamas. Of these top 5 spring break destinations, four locations require planning and budgeting for plane tickets for each family member. 

It’s pretty ironic that you’re stressing over something that’s supposed to help you de-stress, but that’s the reality of it. There’s a lot to think about, after all. After figuring out where you’re going, you have to budget for accommodations, your plane or train tickets, or map out your route if you’re going on a road trip. 

But the beginning of the year is actually a great time to start saving up for that trip you’ve been dreaming of. And I’ve listed the best strategies to save and bulk up your bank account so you don’t have to use your credit cards and go into debt paying for your trip. Best of all, these tips help you save for vacation even on a tight budget!

The 52-Week Savings Challenge (Freebie alert!!!)

woman-holding-100-usdThe concept is pretty simple. To start, I recommend that you either open a new savings account solely dedicated to your vacation fund or that you earmark one of your savings accounts (if you have more than one) as your dedicated vacation bank account. If your bank allows you to label your accounts with nicknames, it might help you visualize your end goal more if you see “Cancun” or “Maui” next to your vacation savings account.

You start by tucking away just $1 in the first week of the year and then you increase your deposits by another dollar each week throughout the year. So in week 2, you deposit $2, then $3 in week 3, and so on. By the end of December, you’ll be putting away upwards of $50. After all is said and done you’ll have saved up close to $1,500 without really breaking a sweat!

It takes a different mindset but if you think about it, you’re literally putting away spare change (well, until you get to December) but it’s so satisfying to see that little vacation nest egg grow! And then you’ll have funds to pay for all or part of your vacation instead of racking up debt on your credit card.

Pro tip: Choose a specific day each week to make your deposits, and stick to that day to get used to the pattern (I like Fridays because it feels like an added accomplishment as each week closes out). Better yet, schedule your transfers ahead of time that way you don’t even have to think about having to move your money around every week.

To set you up for success further, our team created this template to make things much easier and much more visual for you. There’s something so satisfying about checking off each week that you’ve made a deposit, plus with this worksheet, you get so see you how far you’ve come.

Our template’s so easy to use! Follow these steps to get you going:

  • Create a copy and save it to one of your local folders.
  • Customize your Week 1 deposit amount to your desired starting deposit.
  • Customize your weekly deposit increments–we take care of computing the weekly running totals so you can see how much you’ve saved up, as well as your total savings at the end of the year.
  • Every time you’ve completed a deposit, check off the checkbox for that week. It’s a great motivator to see how far you’ve come and how close you are to your goal. 


If you fall behind, don’t feel discouraged! You can always adjust your weekly deposits so you can catch up. Just stick to the program and we guarantee it’ll be one habit you’ll keep for years to come. 

And if you use our template, you have the opportunity to save even more. For example, if your budget allows you to save $2 each week, you could save over $2,700 at the end of the year! 

Billy Gozum is the founder and CEO of Urban Tykes, an online platform helping families with young children travel lighter by connecting them with parents local to their destination who have listed their baby gear for rent. Billy is a mom to two girls who love to travel. She's committed to encouraging families to explore the world with their kids and to be part of the solution to food insecurity and homelessness among children. She'll also beat you to LotR/Harry Potter movie trivia challenges, but she’ll buy you a cup of (decaf) coffee in the unlikely event that she loses.

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