VACATION PLANNING Start saving for that exciting outing

Vacations are as important for our overall wellness as healthy food and exercise. In today’s fast-paced world when we list down our priorities we often forget about relaxation and vacations. Most of us skip vacations due to lack of money. It is time we give our vacations priority and start saving and planning. Here’s how to do it.

WORDS: SANGEETA SINHA

We often dream of a nice, relaxing and happy holiday with our loved ones but it does not materialise many times due to lack of advance planning and saving. Taking vacations is good for your health; a lot of studies have highlighted the cardiovascular health benefits of taking a vacation.

Relaxing and getting away from your worries — both personal and professional — can help lower anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure, which can in turn lower the risk of heart disease and chronic illness caused by stress.

The most important part of any vacation is to fit it in your budget and for that planning is the key. First of all you need to zero-in on your destination. Destination and the duration of your vacation should be such that they fit in your budget and do not hit your bank balance.
Next you can research for holiday packages. Travelling off-season is also a good idea if you wish to you save money.

Travel companies offer many plans. You can go for group holiday, family holiday or you also have the option to get the package customised. If you are the adventurous kind you can also go solo.
For most of us the biggest constraint in going for a vacation is finance. But these days with advance planning and regular saving you can enjoy your dream vacations. Understanding the requirement of market, a lot of travel agencies have come up with packages which can help you plan and save money for your vacation.
Some of the popular schemes are listed below. Do your own research and find out about such schemes floating in the market. Based on your requirement you can choose the scheme and plan your vacation.

SAVINGS HOLIDAY SCHEMES
These days the concept of ‘savings holiday schemes’ is very popular.

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These schemes are offered by travel companies where you can save for the holiday package at the current tariffs without worrying about the change in air fares and hotel tariffs during the time of travel.
HOLIDAY SAVING ACCOUNT
Many travel companies have come up with innovative plans that allow people to save money for big vacations.

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Holiday saving account is one such scheme where travel companies have tied up with banks like ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank.
One travel agency offers a unique savings plan for holiday goers. Under this scheme you can save monthly amount in the form of a recurring deposit with the bank in order to avail a vacation package. The cost of the package you choose is divided by 13 and you pay for 12 months and at the end of the year, the maturity proceeds are transferred to the travel company to pay for your pre-selected holiday package. The company funds the balance amount i.e – the 13th installment – to purchase your package after factoring in the accrued interest.

HOLIDAY INVESTMENT PLAN
Holiday investment plans are also being offered by travel companies in partnership with various leading banks.

EMI SCHEME
You can opt for this scheme when you are ready for a vacation but tight on the budget. The EMI option being offered by many travel companies has large takers. Whether it is domestic or international holiday, you can choose your destination and divide all your expenditure into easy EMIs. You may have to pay minimum down payment and the rest is taken care of.
It is all about prioritising. A vacation has to be taken as a therapy and should be on our agenda. You don’t have to go for long or expensive destinations but break is something we all need for our overall wellness and productivity. Options are many, financing is also available…you just need to make up your mind.
So next time when you budget your expenses make sure you don’t miss out on the vacation.

HOW VACATION HELPS
Relieves stress – Stress can take a serious toll on your physical health. Chronic stress can be destructive to our bodies. Getting away from personal and professional stress can help your physical health
More productivity – Your productivity and focus increases after a good break. Continuous work with no breaks or vacations can make people feel blocked and distracted, and they have problems concentrating
Increases family bonding – Family vacations increase bonding and help forge closer bonds. They create more memories than any other activity
Makes you happy – People who take regular vacations feel extremely happy with an overall feeling of well-being

FUND YOUR VACATION
Planning and scheduling well can help you save a good deal on your vacation
Plan well in advance so that you can save on air fare
Keep a separate fund for vacations; many schemes are being offered by travel companies – study them well
Recurring deposit with your bank is a good option if you are saving for a holiday 1-2 years away
For greater flexibility, and possibly higher returns, you can opt for short-term debt funds; they offer stable returns and are not very volatile.
For bigger vacations SIP is also a good idea; if you have 3-4 years to plan then you can add equities too
Keep your eyes and ears open for latest updates

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SOME TIPS
Choose your destination and duration keeping your budget in mind
Next look for best packages to your selected destination
Research on your destination; it helps making your own itinerary
One of the best ways of going about it is visiting the country’s official tourism website and read their recommendations
List all essential items you would need so that you don’t miss any important thing
If you are travelling abroad, a valid passport and tourist visa should be in place
Do not forget to check if there are some country guidelines on specific vaccinations you might have to take before your visit
Don’t miss on the travel insurance

STAYCATION
A period in which an individual or family stays home and participates in leisure activities within driving distance, sleeping in their own beds at night. They might make day trips to local tourist sites, swimming venues, or engage in fun activities such as painting, hiking or visiting museums. When on a tight budget and when annual family vacation becomes difficult it can be used as a cheaper substitute where you save on air tickets, accommodation etc. It is called fun vacation or stay-at-home-vacation.