The annual summer vacation is an iconic occasion for many Americans. For some it’s a return trip to an annual favorite place; for others, it’s an opportunity to explore a new location with each and every annual excursion. No matter what summer vacation is to you, there’s a cost associated with it, and if that cost routinely runs more than you expected, it pays to start saving for your trip now and reduce expenses wherever you can.
Use the four tips below as your baseline and you’ll have the funds you need to make your summer excursion special.
Determine where you are going.
Planning your destination is fun, but it’s best to get the choice of location out of the way early. Why? The sooner you decide where you are going, the sooner you can start price shopping. Prices climb when you book last minute, and determining your destination early lets you be choosier in shopping for the perfect hotel, rental car, and other accouterments.
Alter your norm.
Most people take weekend vacations or trips that cause them to leave on a Friday and return on a Sunday — and they pay for it. Instead, take a couple of extra days off and set your travel plans around non-peak flight days. The money you’ll save on tickets will be worth it. For an even more drastic change, shake up where you’re headed. Go north in the winter or south in the summer to see sights for a fraction of the price you’d pay during peak seasons.
Maintain total spending visibility.
Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you: You enjoy the vacation of your dreams without a single thing going wrong, and then you see the bill and suddenly your wonderful trip is diminished by the costs associated with it. This year, start a new norm by funneling all of your summer vacation spending through a prepaid card instead. Fill the card with your predetermined budget and stick to that throughout the trip. It will take some getting used to at first, but doing so will ensure the memories of your trip will be just as wonderful even after the final bill is paid.
If you’re looking to make your summer vacation a little less expensive, embrace the philosophy "the more the merrier." Inviting friends or family to travel with you can make the costs of hotels and rental cars more affordable, and you’ll have the added bonus of creating amazing memories together that you can all enjoy for years to come.
Your summer vacation should be one of the greatest times of your year, so don't let it be ruined by poor financial planning. Use the tips above to cut your costs without diminishing your experience and you'll make this year's trip your best yet.