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Build your travel budget with these 7 tips.

If you’re dreaming of that next vacation, you’re not alone. According to the BMO® Annual Savings Report, 45 per cent of Canadians are currently saving for their next getaway.

Some of the top destinations for those fleeing the winter in 2014 included Fort Lauderdale (at the top of the list), Orlando, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Paris and Riviera Maya.

Wherever you’re planning to escape, we’ve got seven easy tips to get your travel budget in tip-top shape:

  1. Make it a savings game: Need motivation to save? Make it a game. Apps like Strides can help make saving fun with flexible reminders and charts that can keep you motivated and on track as you work towards your savings goal. You can also give yourself personal goals, like trying to buy lunch or a latte only once a week, or taking transit instead of driving to save on parking. Every time you take out your wallet, stop and ask yourself if it’s something you really need, or simply want.
  2. Set a tangible goal: Set yourself up for success by creating a SMART goal (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound). To get started, determine how much you’ll need for your trip and how long you have to save. For example, if you’re planning a trip to the Caribbean in a year, take into account the cost of your flight, hotel, car rental, food and other expenses. If you calculate your trip will cost about $5,000, make it your target to save $100 per week. Along the way, take advantage of these great tools to help you save and measure your progress.
  3. Give it a nickname: If it’s too tempting to spend what you’re saving, consider opening a separate savings account and giving it a nickname that will remind you of your goal. For example, name your account ‘trip’ or ‘NYC’ — that way, every time you see the balance go up, you’ll be reminded of the end goal and motivated to contribute even more. Try to choose a savings account that will work with you to help you reach your goals, like the BMO Savings Builder Account, which rewards you with a great bonus interest rate when you save $200 or more each month.
  4. Maximize credit card perks: For the times when you have to spend money, you may as well get something in return. Try consolidating your spending on a rewards card that will give you cash back, AIR MILES®# Reward Miles, or other travel rewards. Choose the type of reward that suits you best and then work your credit card perks to help get you closer to your destination.
  5. Sell or trade things you don’t need: Consider scaling back your stuff, and make money while you’re at it! Purge closets of clothes you never wear, garages of equipment you never use, and basements of furniture you don’t need. Your old trash could be someone else’s treasure. Have a yard sale, try selling some clothes at consignment shops, or post things on Kijiji®* or Craigslist®†. You can also try swapping your old stuff for travel gear on sites like Bunz Trading Zone — a secret Facebook®‡ group for Toronto residents.
  6. Use coupons when you can: Even if you save a few cents, over time, a little goes a long way. Learn how to use coupons to save like a pro by visiting coupon sites and keeping your eyes peeled for flyers and promotions that arrive in your inbox or mailbox.
  7. Dine in: There are many benefits of cooking your own meals: you’ll eat healthier and save money on the high price of restaurant meals (and taxes and tips), plus you can hone your culinary skills and learn a bit about the culture of your travel destination. For example, if you’re saving for a trip to Italy, learn how to make some classic Italian dishes like the perfect pasta sauce or chicken parmesan.

Now that your vacation budget is in better shape, stretch it even further by keeping an eye on the exchange rate and getting foreign currency when it’s low. Plus, monitor hotel rates and flights (try the app Hopper, which does the work for you), book early and off-season if you can, and scour travel websites for vacation deals. Bon Voyage!

For more money-saving tips, read Turn your spending habit into a saving habit.
®# Trademarks of AIR MILES International Trading B.V. Used under license by LoyaltyOne, Co. and Bank of Montreal
®* Registered trademark of Kijiji International Limited
®† Registered trademark of Craigslist, Inc.
®‡ Registered trademark of Facebook, Inc.

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