Summer vacations don't have to break the bank or take you off track from meeting your financial goals. If summer travel is on your agenda, planning ahead can help you make the most of your vacation—whether it's a long weekend for two or a family road trip.
According to a survey by FatWallet, 42% of Americans will spend more than $1,500 on their next vacation. With summer fast approaching, here is a checklist to help you get the most for your vacation money:
- Plan ahead. Once you've decided where you'd like to vacation, keep your eye on hotel rates and airfare long before you depart, and snag a deal in advance.
- Be flexible with travel dates. Think about traveling mid-week or in the off-season. Airfare and hotel rates may cost you far less with just a minor adjustment to your schedule.
- Use travel sites to compare prices. Google Flights, Trivago, and AirfareWatchdog are just a few Web sites that scour the internet for the best deals on travel, based on your parameters.
- Track price changes after you book. No matter how much comparison shopping you've done, it's possible that the hotel you booked lowered your rate after you made your reservation. Use a travel aggregator site, such as Momondo or Kayak to keep track of changes after you book and before you leave. (Some sites can help you compare prices and track price changes — all in one.)
- Make friends with the locals. If you're staying in a hotel, ask the concierge for deals and discounts in the area. If you know someone in town, ask them to recommend places away from the tourist areas that may be less expensive to visit, but just as interesting.
- Develop a budget. The key to a successful vacation is to be smart with your money. Set a limit on how much you intend to spend, and then figure out how best to stay within that amount. Simply thinking about how you spend vacation money can help you avoid overspending.
- Start a travel fund and save for vacation all year long. Take the sting out of paying for vacation expenses all at once, and avoid going into debt, by setting up a savings account and putting a fixed amount in every month.
- Don't put it on a credit card. It's so easy to pull out a credit card to pay for that poolside margarita, but don't get caught in the trap of splurging while traveling. You don't want to be surprised by a high credit card bill when you return home, and it's not fun to start your vacation in debt for the airline tickets either.
Want to make sure you're being financially smart with your vacation planning? The experienced and knowledgeable team at Orange County's Retirement and Investment Services can help guide you through important financial decisions so you don't come home to expensive bills. We're with you all the way. To learn more, contact us at (888) 354-6228, ext. 7599 or visit us at orangecountyscu.org.
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Financial Consultants are registered with and securities and investment advisory services offered through LPL Financial and Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC. Orange County's Credit Union and Orange County's Retirement & Investment Services are not registered broker/dealers and are not affiliated with LPL Financial.