Financial Education Blog

Don’t let your next Vacation leave you with Debt

The average vacation costs roughly $1,200 per person (or $4,800 for a family of four). While vacations are a great way to spend quality time with loved ones and unwind, the credit card bills that arrive soon after can quickly ruin that after-vacation bliss.

Before you book your next trip, consider whether or not you can afford it. If you’re struggling to make ends meet each month, planning a big trip with airfare and a hotel stay probably isn’t the best idea. Nothing is wrong with planning a staycation or a trip to see relatives. Both can be great fun and save hundreds of dollars.
If a larger trip is on your radar, set a budget. The better you plan your budget, the better your vacation. Not having to worry about how much money is in your bank account or how much credit card debt you’re accruing can free you to truly enjoy your trip.

Start with a Maximum Budget, then Start to Save
Many would think it’s safe to assume that you would base your budget on your location, but some locations are pretty pricy. Determine the maximum amount that you can spend on your trip first, then narrow your destination.
You can determine your maximum budget by reviewing your monthly or annual budget. Determine what you can carve out each month and multiply that by the number of months between now and the time of your trip. If possible, try to front load your savings. That way, you have funding when it comes time to book accommodations and tickets.

Pick your Destination
Don’t let cheap airfare lure you in. Take the time to investigate possible destinations before committing. Or, if you have a location in mind, take the time to find the best possible deal. All-inclusive vacations may be something to consider, as your food, entertainment and accommodations will be factored into the total cost. 

Some ideas to consider:
  • Membership clubs like AAA, Costco Travel Club and Sam’s Travel Club can save you money on hotel stays, car rentals and more!
  • If you are a 7 17 Credit Union member, don’t forget about our Benefits Plus travel benefit. To access Benefits Plus, visit www.benefits-plus.org.
  • Consider off-peak travel if possible. Avoid traveling during school breaks or holidays. Not only will you save money, but your destination will be less crowded.
  • Shop online for discounts on hotels. You can also call a hotel or resort directly and ask about discounts. Be mindful of deals that seems too good to be true.
  • Try and get a hotel room that has a kitchen. Making some of your meals instead of eating out can be a big money saver.
  • Consider an Airbnb.
  • Don’t forget about frequent flyer miles! If you have them, figure out whether is it worth cashing them in or not.
Don’t Forget
It’s easy to overlook things when planning and budgeting. Remember these small, but important aspects so you don’t get caught off guard.

Don’t forget to budget for:
  • Meals
  • Special equipment for the trip
  • Public transportation/gas
  • Administrative costs (passports, visas, etc.)
  • Entertainment
  • Gifts/souvenirs
  • Pet/home sitting while you are gone
  • Gratuities/taxes
As you’re saving, prepay for as much as possible. You get better deals when you pay ahead of time, plus you’ll have less to worry about when you return.

Stay on Budget while you’re Away
You’ve spent months savings for your trip, don’t blow your hard work by overspending.
Here are a few options for sticking to your budget while on vacation:
  • Carry cash. Take out your daily discretionary funds so it’s easier to track.
  • Track your spending daily.
  • Spend on a credit card. If you have a card with no balance, use it while you’re on your trip and pay it off once you return.
You can still have a great vacation while being financially responsible. It just takes a little work. For additional tips, visit Vacation Budgeting at www.717cu.com/KOFE. Once you proceed to the KOFE site, select financial publications from the KOFE table drop-down menu and then click on money management. 7 17 has partnered with KOFE (Knowledge of Financial Education) to provide free financial education tools to help support members’ long-term financial health. Resources include publications, videos and more. Plus, you have free access to financial coaches, seven days a week! 
 
This article can be found in its entirety at, https://www.doughroller.net/smart-spending/budgeting-family-travel/.