3 Easy Ways to Increase Your Annual Vacation Budget

Save and make a little cash here and there so you can set more aside for yearly travel.
Josh Garber
By Josh Garber 

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Having an annual vacation budget is a helpful way to know how much you can spend on trips and travel every year.

If you would like to increase the amount of money you have available for vacations, this guide offers tips on creating a budget and three steps you can take to boost your vacation kitty.

Pre-work: Create a budget

Before you can begin to think about ways to increase your annual vacation budget, you first need to know your current budget. To do this, you'll need to make a list of your annual income and expenses.

If you don't regularly keep track of your spending, you can estimate how much you'd spend in a year by tracking your expenses for a month and then multiplying that result by 12.

Below is an example of what your budget could look like:

  • After-tax income: $4,500/month or $54,000/year.

  • Expenses:


Budget amount









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$4,265/month or $51,180/year.

Two important notes on the above budget: First, we'd recommend using after-tax income when creating your budget, as this is the money you'll have available to spend. Second, you should ensure you have emergency savings, covering at least three to six months of expenses, before increasing your annual vacation budget.

Based on the above example, with an after-tax income of $54,000/year and expenses of $51,180/year, you'd have a total of $2,820 that you could potentially use as your vacation budget. Now that you know your vacation budget, you can take steps to increase it.

How to increase your annual vacation budget

1. Cut back on some discretionary expenses

No, we're not going to tell you to cut back on avocado toast to increase your vacation budget — but we are going to suggest cutting back on avocado toast (or another expense) if it's not something that you genuinely love.

Think about what brings you the most joy in your current budget and what brings you the least, then try to cut back on the latter.

For instance, if you're a fashionista who treasures an after-work gym session, you likely will not want to touch your $120/month clothing expense or $45/month gym membership. But if you're just as happy eating in as going out to restaurants, you could easily scale back your monthly food budget and use the additional cash you'll save for travel.

2. Increase your income with outside work

A surefire way to increase your vacation budget is increasing your income with outside work. While we recognize this option isn't feasible for everyone, outside work can help you earn extra cash for vacations.

Although the side job you take on will depend on your skills and interests, below are some examples that could help increase your vacation budget:

  • Freelance editing and copywriting.

  • Neighborhood dog walking.

  • Photography for local events.

  • Website design.

To find this kind of work, you can use freelance search sites like Fiverr or Upwork to find clients or let friends and your professional network know that you're available to take on side projects.

3. Use websites to get money back on everyday purchases

Before you make a purchase online, be sure to check out cash-back sites like TopCashback or Rakuten to see if you can receive money back on your purchases.

How do these websites work? First, you create an account, search for a store you'd like to shop from online and then click a link that connects you to that site. You'll get a set percentage of cash back for the purchases you make.

For instance, you can earn 15% cash back at Walgreens or up to 15% at Samsung. The cash back you can receive and the eligible stores change frequently.

You can increase your vacation budget by using cash-back sites whenever possible for online purchases.

The bottom line

To increase your annual vacation budget, you have to figure out how much money you currently have available for travel. After that, you can take steps to increase your available funds for vacations.

This includes reducing discretionary expenses, taking on a reasonable amount of outside work and using websites that give you cash back for everyday purchases. While these steps require some effort on your end, they will pay off when you use your extra funds to take the vacation of your dreams.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.


Intro offer


Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.


Intro offer


Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.


Intro offer


Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

See more travel cards
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