5 Smart Ways To Stay Within Your Vacation Budget

Concerned about overspending on your next trip? Join the club. Sixty-eight percent of travelers surveyed by Experian in 2015 said they spend more money than they expect while on the road, and 49% accumulate credit card debt while traveling.1

Of course, the point of a vacation is to enjoy yourself, and for many that means splurging on anything from spa treatments to bucket-list dining. But creating and maintaining a budget will allow you to treat yourself without emptying your wallet — or piling on credit card debt.

“The first step to staying within your budget when traveling is to establish one,” says Andrew Schrage, editor-in-chief of personal finance website MoneyCrashers.2 “It should be detailed and complete, from airfare to souvenirs to entertainment. In that same vein, you should also decide on what’s most important to you. It might be securing memorable items to remember your trip or great meals at local restaurants. Be sure to plan out available funds according to those needs.”

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Read on for other expert vacation budgeting tips.

1. Ditch the hotel-first mentality.

The best way to avoid hotel upcharges? Avoid the hotel altogether. “For families, renting a home or condo instead of a hotel can be a big saver,” says Larry Olmsted, a travel reporter for Forbes.3 “You get more room, and the value proposition is great if you were going to need two hotel rooms anyway. But you really save on meals, especially breakfast. This is something that is notoriously expensive at hotels or when traveling, while most kids are perfectly happy with cereal or scrambled eggs like at home. Also, you don’t get nickel and dimed for minibar and Wi-Fi charges.”

2. Think like a local.

A sure-fire way to avoid overspending is to look for discounts on everything from meals to live music. “Use deal-of-the-day websites,” says Schrage. “Groupon and LivingSocial are two good examples. When you input the zip code to where you’re traveling, you’ll get a list of restaurants and other entertainment venues where you can buy [discounted] vouchers for various activities.”

3. Use your credit card rewards.

Depending on your accrued rewards and your ability to redeem them, you can save hundreds on airfare and hotels. Since mileage conversion rates can change, it’s a good idea to redeem your points early and often. Another way to stretch your budget? Redeem gift cards at a travel or car rental company. You can also maximize your cash back by booking travel on your card’s online shopping portal, if it has one.4

4. Go all-inclusive.

Those that have a hard time sticking to a budget may want to opt for an all-inclusive vacation, where meals and lodging are typically included in the price so you know almost exactly how much you are going to spend before you leave home. “There are always extras, like spa treatments or wine, but when your lodging, food and activities are almost all built into the price, it helps you stay organized,” says Olmsted. “But when people hear ‘all-inclusive’ they think of resorts like Sandals or Club Med in the Caribbean or Mexico. There’s a lot more to it. Cruises are essentially all-inclusive trips, and so are most safaris, dude ranches, and many adventure or eco resorts.”

5. Ride the currency coaster.

“Follow the money — or in this case, the exchange rate,” says Olmsted. “Going where the US dollar is strong (relative to the local currency) always means better value and more bang for the buck. And this is a tip that works for everyone, regardless of budget, from luxury travelers to those on a shoestring.”

Resources:

1. http://www.experianplc.com/media/news/2015/millennials-rely-heavily-on-credit-for-their-vacations/

2. www.moneycrashers.com

3. http://www.forbes.com/sites/larryolmsted/#1f375baa7060

4. http://www.discover.com/credit-cards/resources/rewards/how-to-redeem-credit-card-rewards

Legal Disclaimer: The articles and information provided herein are for informational purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice. 

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