People love vacations, but taking trips to see new places can be financially stressful. Here are six tips to financially prepare for a vacation without breaking your budget.
1. Draw up a Budget
First, you should research various potential expenses. If you're planning to fly, look up airfare rates. If you're planning to drive, check how long it will take to get to your destination and calculate gas mileage. Think about what activities you want to do or sights you want to see, and research the costs of those things. Check about the prices of restaurants, shops and lodging in the area you're visiting. Remember to include small expenses in your budget, such as public transportation or medication refills. Once you have figured out all potential expenses, you can draw up your budget, figure out your likely vacation spending and make a decision on how much money you should set aside to prepare for your vacation.
2. Utilize Mobile Banking
Mobile and online banking allow you to keep track of your accounts and expenses in almost real-time. You can check whether there is suspicious activity on your account, let your bank know you're traveling at any time and freeze your account if necessary. Many banks will help you set up a savings account for specific goals, like travel. Increasingly, there are mobile connection tools such as an atm router available, which allow you to do mobile banking and smart vending more easily and safely.
3. Don't Pay with Credit
You should avoid paying for your trip with credit cards if you can. It's best to use debit cards, refillable travel cards or cash when you're able to, so you're paying for your trip upfront. Paying with a credit card can take care of your immediate needs, but you run the risk of being unable to pay the eventual bill in full. If that happens, you may lose money due to needing to pay off interest over time.
4. Decide When To Book and Travel
It may not seem like a financial decision, but the day on which you book your trip can impact your spending. So can the days on which you travel. For example, the price of flights fluctuates in part depending on the day of the week. Tuesdays are good days to book because those are the days airlines tend to release their sale prices. Additionally, you should always book in advance to compare pricing and avoid overcharge fees.
Prices are also lower if you choose to travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays because those days aren't as popular for travel. Airlines hike prices on Mondays and Fridays because more people travel then.
5. Try Different Ways To Save
No matter where you're going or what you're doing on vacation, it's a good idea to put aside savings. Putting money away specifically for a vacation can help you feel less guilty for using it because you're using it with intention. You're using your travel savings rather than dipping into a different account. If you want to do something or go somewhere that might be more expensive than your normal trips, start planning for that early. There are a few different ways you can start saving more money for that trip. You can start freelancing to make some extra money, cut down on eating out and other uses of disposable income leading up to your trip or use a credit card that rewards cash back or travel points.
6. Minimize Expenses
When you're traveling, it's ok to splurge sometimes. But keep your financial goals in mind too. You deserve to treat yourself, but think about ways to continue saving even while vacationing. Bring your own snacks or stay at lodgings that provide free breakfast. Look for free parking if you drive. Research free experiences or reduced prices, such as museums and city parks.
It's possible to plan a vacation on a budget, no matter the size of that budget. You just need to learn how to make your budget work for you.