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Did last year come and go without you getting the chance to flood your social media news feed with gorgeous vacation photos? If so, don't worry. Successfully saving for a vacation comes down to smart financial strategies and planning ahead. Here's a solid vacation savings strategy that will help get you where you want to go this year and for years to come.

Time Your Vacation

When people think of the beach, they think of summer. When they think of the mountains, they think of winter. The problem is that the seasons that are most associated with these great vacation spots are also when these locations are at their most expensive. Luckily, Florida's beautiful beaches are still quite warm in October, and ski mountains offer plenty of off-season activities to keep the whole family happy. If you book your travel to avoid busy seasons, the savings should roll in.

Enjoy Local Ingredients

One vacation budget killer is eating out for every meal. It's easy to do when you're away from your kitchen for so long. But you can swap out restaurant meals for homemade meals with these ideas:

  • Have a picnic with local ingredients. Gather local ingredients from farmer's markets for a picnic in an outside location such as on the beach, in a national park or along a lake.
  • Book accommodations with a kitchen. Book a hotel with a small kitchen or rent out someone's home on sites such as Airbnb. Hit up the local grocery store and stock up your fridge. If your hotel only offers a small fridge, stock it with lunch meats and cheeses so you can pack lunches. Be sure to bring along freezer packs so your food doesn't spoil while you're out traversing the countryside.
  • Accept invitations. Are you traveling to a place where you have a friend or relative who's been dying to have you over? Then don't be afraid to accept their invitation.

Coupon Like a Local

Here's a sweet deal for you - use sites like Groupon to get in on great deals for local activities, festivals and events. Another way to save on many parts of your vacation is by purchasing an entertainment coupon book where you're visiting. They cost between $25 and $35, but can save you big time on eating out, activities and even car rental costs.

Create a Vacation Budget

Now that you know how to shop around for vacation savings, you're ready to create a vacation savings road map. First, research costs online and write down the cost of airfare, hotel, car rental, food, transportation and activities. Take into account any cost-savings measures you can use from above. Then, work backward to figure out how much to set aside each month. Do this by dividing the total cost of your trip by the number of months you have until you leave. For example, if you're seven months away from off-season in Florida, and you've calculated the trip will cost your family $1,600, then divide $1,600 by seven. You'd need to set aside $228.57 per month to save for your trip.

If you can't set aside that much, figure out additional ways to decrease your costs or extend your savings time by pushing back the vacation until you can really afford it. Planning and smart savings strategies can help ensure that this year, and for many years to come, you'll get to enjoy the vacation of your dreams.

This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

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