Five Ways to Plan an Affordable Summer Vacation Created by dsyphers on 6/25/2013 2:03:52 PM
Five Ways to Plan an Affordable Summer Vacation
Summer is a popular time for family vacations, yet the thought of stepping away from work to travel can be daunting in uncertain economic times. Whether or not taking a vacation is one of your financial goals this year, here are five tips to help make your summer vacation plans more affordable this year, or any year. With careful planning, you can look forward to relaxing time off and memories that will last a lifetime.
1. Set a budget. There are two ways to approach your summer vacation budget; decide where you’d like to go and then estimate the costs, or set a maximum dollar amount and let that number determine what kind of vacation is within your reach. It’s important to be honest and realistic with yourself as you set your summer travel budget. Whether you choose to travel near or far, make sure your vacation tab won’t damage your financial future in exchange for a little pleasure now. And if you can’t afford to venture away from home this year, consider planning a “staycation”—vacation time spent at home doing fun, low-cost activities in your area.
2. Give yourself time. Planning your vacation is half the fun, so put time on your side. Advance planning makes it possible to daydream about your upcoming opportunity to get away and relax. And with several months to anticipate, you can save a portion of your household spending money to fortify your vacation budget. As needed, set up automated savings between your checking and savings accounts for consistent contributions. Planning in advance can also give you more time to seek out affordable entertainment and relaxation activities during your vacation.
3. Seek out travel bargains. You can save money with a little investigative work to uncover the lowest prices for the things you need and want to do during your vacation. Deals on hotels, flights and car rentals are typically available in advance and online. Also, flights leaving or returning midweek tend to be cheaper. You can bid on lower-cost flights using some services up to the day before your departure, though you often can’t select the exact times or airline. If you’re feeling adventurous, you may also consider non-commercial property rental sites like online services that connect private parties to short-term lodging.
4. Strategize to cut costs. No matter where you plan to spend your vacation, there are ways to minimize expenses. Conserve on your food budget by booking a hotel that offers free breakfast or has a kitchen so you can prepare your own meals. Pack snacks to avoid paying inflated prices at the airport or at theme parks. If you’re visiting a city, bring comfortable walking shoes and use mass transit to avoid the expense of car rental and overnight parking. Pack light to avoid paying extra baggage fees. Keep in mind that little things can add up quickly and make a difference in your total costs.
5. Plan low- and no-cost activities. Nearly every major city in the United States has an online discount site that posts local deals. You can log on before your trip and snap up discounts on restaurants, concerts, spa visits and more. Seek out museums and parks that charge low or no admission. Hiking or walking and site seeing are two activities that are good for you and your pocketbook.
A little planning can go a long way toward making short- and long-term financial goals a reality. Consider working with a financial advisor to help you create a comprehensive plan for your financial life and save for what matters most to you and your family.
TERRY ANDERSON, CFP®, CDFATM of REIMBOLD & ANDERSON, is a Financial Advisor and Franchise Owner with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. in Fort Wayne, IN. He specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for over 35 years. To contact him:
Phone: (260) 432-3235
Address: 5750 Coventry Lane, Suite 110 Fort Wayne, IN 46804
This communication is published in the United States for residents of Indiana only; and this advisor is licensed/registered to do business with U.S. residents only in the states IN, MO, OH, NC, TX, & FL.
Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC.
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