8 Tips to Save & Stay on Budget for a Post-College Vacation

This post is sponsored by BECU and all my opinions are my own. I’m partnering with BECU this year to focus on financial health and well-being as well as to open up about my journey with debt and savings. BECU is a member-owned credit union focused on helping increase the financial health of its members with great tools and tips for budgeting.

Frankie and Jos - Vegan Ice Cream - Ballard Seattle Washington

In 2014, I graduated from the University of Washington. I had exactly one month to pack my life up, move to Southern California, and start my full-time job . I spent my last few weeks packing, looking for a place to live, and saying goodbye to my friends and family.


As I went through orientation and training, my friends took trips to Europe or road trips to their favorite national parks. As I learned my sales territory, my friends finished up their one or two summer classes and enjoyed the beautiful Northwest summer. I remember looking around and realizing that I didn’t take the time to relax and enjoy my time before I jumped into working full-time.


This June, I’m graduating with my Master’s in Digital Media from the University of Washington.

This time around, I’m determined to take a trip after graduation. So, last summer when my family learned that my cousin in the Philippines got engaged, my boyfriend and I decided we would go. We decided that we would spend one week in the Philippines and one week in Japan. We are so excited about this trip this summer after graduation and we’ve already started saving for it.


If you’re graduating from school either this year or next year and want to take a post-college vacation, this blog post is for you. I’m sharing a few tips on how to save plus stay on budget while on vacation.

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Frankie and Jos - Who What Wear Collection

Post-College Vacation Tip #1: Choose a vacation destination early

Before you start saving for a vacation after graduation, you have to pick your destination. Do you want to travel internationally? Do you want to travel inside the United States? Do you want to take a road trip? Or maybe you want to take a cruise?
The earlier you decide on the destination, the more time you’ll have to save for your trip. If you’re taking an international trip, you may want 6 months to save. If you’re taking a domestic trip, you may want 3 months to save.
Deciding early on a destination also gives you the time to research locations and off seasons of traveling.

Post-College Vacation Tip #2: Determine total trip cost

Once you decide on a location, you can layout the total cost of your trip. Here are some important factors to consider when laying out your travel costs:

  1. Airfare
  2. Transportation (to/from airport and attractions)
  3. Lodging (hostels, hotels, Airbnbs, etc.)
  4. Food
  5. Activities/Entertainment (museums, tours, sightseeing)
  6. Souvenirs

If you’re traveling on a budget, you’ll want to explore all the different options to get the most bang for your buck. For instance, it may be cheaper to split an Airbnb with your friends than it is for everyone to get their own hotel room. It may also be wise to travel by train or bus to get from city to city, versus flying, if you’re traveling within the same country or state.

Post-College Vacation Tip #3: Budget your monthly trip savings

Next, take the total cost of your trip and divide the number of months away from your trip.
Example: If the total cost of your trip is $2,000 and you have 6 months to save, you’d take $2,000 and divide by 6 and get $333 – this is the amount you have to save each month. 
You’ll calculate the amount you need to put away each month leading up to your trip. If you already have some money put away that you could use towards your trip, you could lower this amount. If you don’t, you know how much you need to save to make sure you’re able to pay for your vacation.

Post-College Vacation Tip #4: Set up a travel account and your automatic deposits

After you’ve selected your destination and determined the amount of money you need to save each month, it’s time to set up a travel account and automatic deposits. Personally, I set up automatic deposits for my travel and emergency accounts.
For BECU members, setting up automatic transfers into your savings accounts is really simple. Once you’ve set up Online Banking, click on “Transfers”. This should take you to the “Transfer Funds” page. You’ll be able to select single or recurring transfers on this page.
You’ll also be able to select the account you want to transfer from and into and how often you want the transfer to happen.
Why you should set up automatic deposits:

  • You don’t have to worry about manually putting the money away each month. 
  • You won’t be tempted to spend the money if it goes straight into your savings account.
  • You’ll feel good after you see your travel savings account accumulate.

Post-College Vacation Tip #5: Earn a little cash with a side hustle

If you’re looking to earn some money to save up for your trip, here are a few ideas:

  • Walk dogs with Rover
  • Drive Uber-Eats or Uber
  • Sell your clothes on Poshmark or Crossroads Trading
  • Take paid surveys
  • Become a nanny, hostess, or part-time server 
Frankie and Jos - Vegan Ice Cream - Ballard Seattle Washington
Frankie and Jos - Vegan Ice Cream - Ballard Seattle Washington

If you want to stay on budget while traveling on vacation, here are a few tips:

Stay on Budget Tip #1: Set a daily budget for meals

  • Food is one of the things I look forward to the most when I travel. I love to eat, which means I make sure to budget for it. If you’re visiting a new city and want to figure out how much to budget and spend each day for meals, I recommend visiting the U.S. General Services Administration website. You can enter the city and state you’re visiting on the website and it’ll give you a daily per diem amount.
  • For example, if you enter “California – Los Angeles”, you’ll find that the recommended amount to spend on food is $66/day. I’ve used the GSA to determine the recommended amount to spend on business and also have used it to determine personal travel food expenses.

Stay on Budget Tip #2: Watch how much you spend on drinks

  • Having one or two drinks a night may fit nicely in your budget, but splurging on a nice bottle of wine at every dinner may not. Spending money on drinks can quickly add up and eat away at the food/drink portion of your travel budget.

Stay on Budget Tip #3: Embrace the free things to do

One way to stay on budget is to do the free things in the city or place you’re visiting. You may not have to sign up for a guided tour through Florence to experience the city. You could research all the prominent historical sites and plan your own walking tour.

During spring break of senior year, my girlfriends and I went to Palm Springs and LA. Here are all the free things we decided to do as a group to save some money but still have fun:

  • Visit the LACMA lights
  • Walk Manhattan Beach pier and beach trail
  • Walk through downtown Palm Springs
frankie and jos - eat seattle - seattle vegan dessert

What are your tips for saving and staying on budget for vacation?


Thank you for reading!

Love,

Emma

Photos: Karya Schanilec

3 Comments

  1. April 15, 2019 / 1:38 am

    Love this!! I am on track to finish paying off my last student loan in 2019, so next year I really want to do an international trip! These are some great tips for prioritizing saving for travel. 🙂

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

  2. Marcie
    April 18, 2019 / 10:48 am

    I was all about finding the free stuff to do right after college! We LOVE BECU! I’ve been a member with them since I was 5 years old!

  3. Laura
    May 7, 2019 / 9:54 am

    This is a great post!!! It really reiterated to me all of the things I have to do to prepare for a trip. When I went to Seattle a couple of month ago, I found CityPASS and it saved y boyfriend and I a good chunk of money, and when I went to D.C last month it was nice being able to have free things!!

    Thanks for this post!!!

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