Machu Picchu

Planning for Your Bucket List Vacation

You Know Where You Want to Go, But How Much Do You Want to Spend?

You’ve got your dream destination in mind. Whether it’s the swaying palms of the Caribbean or the cobblestone streets of Europe, setting a budget is the next big step in the vacation planning process. So how much should you expect to spend? Read on for some tips on getting ahead of your budget.

Consider your Accommodation

It comes as no surprise that your accommodation will account for the majority of your travel budget, so choose intentionally. All-inclusive options may seem more expensive comparatively, but their inclusions also mean you’ll save money on other costs such as meals and activities. Looking to keep costs low? Remember that bargain options and traditional hotels are likely to charge a la carte, so budget extra for more unexpected costs like transfers, Wi-Fi and incidentals. More expensive options such as boutique and luxury hotels will be more likely to provide personalized service in the form of private transfers, welcome receptions, or credits to use at the restaurant or spa—the types of inclusions that can really make a vacation feel special. Plus, you’re less likely to run into surprise expenses that can sour the vacation moment.

Luxury villa with a pool
accommodations -  Don't be afraid to splurge for your bucket list vacation, which should include staying in an luxurious villa while visiting your dream travel destination.

Opt for Insurance

The most expensive part of a vacation is what can happen if something goes wrong. Of course we never want to expect the worst, but things happen. From flight cancellations to natural disasters, family emergencies, lost baggage and anything else, unexpected mishaps can cost a lot of money. Whether it means paying for a vacation you didn’t fulfill, losing out on prepaid deposits, or replacing lost baggage, a good travel insurance policy can prevent unexpected mishaps from taking a toll on your wallet. Paying more is worth the peace of mind, so budget extra to cover the premium.

Travel insurance forms
plan for emergencies - A good travel insurance policy can help you avoid unexpected mishaps that may take a toll on your wallet.


Part of the fun of vacation is letting go of plans and going wherever the wind takes you, but with limited time and so much to do, days can easily slip away from you if you don’t prioritize. Decide on at least one must-do experience—be it a winery excursion, SCUBA tour or zip-lining adventure—and book in advance. Reserving time for high-priority activities is a great way to anchor your itinerary. It will be easier to squeeze in secondary options around the important plans and give you something concrete to look forward to, plus you’ll have one less expense to pay for once you get there.

Woman guiding man to Petra.
special excursion - Before you go, you should consult a travel agent to book a special excursion that you've always dreamed about doing, such as an excursion with your significant other to visit Petra.

Budget for Extras

So you’ve booked flights, selected your accommodation, opted for insurance and arranged some seriously awesome tours. That should be it, right? As the old vacation adage goes, bring twice the money and half the clothes. Whether it’s opting for a spontaneous parasailing excursion on the beach, splurging on an eye-catching piece of local art or lucking out with a walk-in reservation at a Michelin-starred restaurant, some of the best vacation experiences are those last-minute, off-the-cuff decisions that you didn’t budget for. Stow away a bit of unallocated fun money to return with stories and experiences that are truly priceless.

Inspired by this article and want to speak with an expert travel agent about how you can plan a luxury vacation? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts match you with a travel agent, who can customize the dream itinerary that you deserve.

Couple parasailing
extra activities - With your travel agent, plan for those extra fun activities that will help make your trip unforgettable such as a parasailing adventure with your spouse.