Summer is almost officially here and many of us are ready to make up for lost time and go on a vacation.
Scott Braddock from "Scott Braddock Financial" has some tips on how to save money on our summer travel.
Determine How Much You Can Spend
Americans are ready to make up for lost time and take a vacation. More than half of people plan to allocate more money toward trips this year.
Before anyone decides to allocate more money toward a trip, look at your current budget. Figure out what you can really afford to spend and stick to it.
You can still have fun while preventing stress and headaches when you come home. A little pre-planning now will help you avoid staggering credit card bills later!
How much each family can spend on vacation will vary, but if the choice is between going into debt or not going on the trip - I suggest you don’t go.
I am a firm believer that if you’re going to make any big decision in life, you need a good coach. I help my clients take charge of their finances through 5 simple steps: discovery, analysis, mapping, execution and then monitoring your progress.
Price Out Your Trip
Once you know how much money you can allocate toward the trip, price out each of the expenses like hotels, airfare, food and entertainment. Then inflate the number by 10-15%; this will serve as a cushion for any unexpected expenses. If you are coming in over budget, look for ways to save! You could bundle your trip through a travel website, end your trip a day early or travel on off-peak days, which tend to be less expensive.
Also, check out discount websites that can bring down the high cost of theme parks, zoos and other attractions. For a vacation budget worksheet, head to scottbraddockfinancial.com.
Build Your Itinerary
Take pricing out your trip a step further and build an itinerary. Deciding what is most important ahead of time and planning what you are going to each day can prevent unnecessary spending. You may not be able to afford every attraction, going out to eat every day and souvenirs. Take advantage of continental breakfasts, and try to avoid the hotel restaurant. It’s often a lot more expensive than the café down the street.
Get a hotel room with a fridge and microwave. Stock your room with snacks and microwavable meals that will tide you over instead of going to a restaurant for every meal.
Create a Daily Cash Allowance
The trip budget and itinerary go hand in hand with using cash. Each day, only carry the amount you have allotted to spend. When the cash is gone, you’ve reached your limit. Also, when you set aside cash, instead of using credit cards, you avoid ATM fees.
If you’re traveling internationally, call your bank and credit card issuers ahead of time to find out their foreign transaction fees. You’ll want to make sure the card you’re using is not racking up extra charges every time you use it. Try to use credit cards only for emergencies!
Get the Family Involved
It’s easier to stick with a plan if every family member is on the same page. Talk as a group about the spending plan and itinerary for the trip. This is also a great opportunity to teach kids about responsible spending. When working with retirees, I often see their adult children expecting them to pay for the family trip. I tell my clients to verbalize what they want.
Clarifying expectations could result in hurt feelings in the short term, but in the end, you may feel resentful if you commit to something just to avoid feeling uncomfortable.