Plan a Vacation (Without Breaking the Bank)

Apr 6, 2022 9:00:00 AM

With the weather heating up and COVID restrictions loosening, many people are looking forward to a well-deserved summer vacation! How to take a trip without breaking the bank? Read on for a few tips to budget-friendly vacation planning.

Take Advantage of Cancellation Policies

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many lower-cost airlines, hotels and excursion companies have become stricter about cancellation policies. This can work in budget travelers’ favor. If you’re willing to accept a “no cancellation” policy and commit to a date, you could get a great deal that costs a lot less than the full price. On the other hand, if you’re traveling with family or you’re uncomfortable committing to a no-money-back booking, make sure you double check the rules on cancellation.

Get Ready to Give Up Your Seat

If Christmas 2021 is any indication, people are ready to travel—and the summer vacation season is likely to once again see enormous numbers of passengers taking to the skies. Be prepared for overbooked flights, and if you’re a flexible traveler, you could earn free yourself free flights by giving up your seat. Of course, it’s much easier to take advantage of flight-bumping benefits if you fly with hand luggage and have flexible accommodation bookings, so pack light and prepare accordingly.

Use Economic Smarts to Save

Understanding what’s happening in the wider economy can help you save smartly. Right now, the biggest impact on household budgets is coming from inflation on food expenses and rising gas prices. So, when you’re saving up for that vacation, focus on reducing car trips and lowering your grocery or eating out bill. Committing to a few days of biking per week, or replacing family dinners out with a cheaper option at home, can make a big difference in these high-inflation times.

Track Spending During Your Trip

Many people like to travel with a pre-paid debit card to limit their spending, but the downside of this approach is that you usually can’t earn points or miles. Another option is to pay with a credit card, while also using an app like Mint that automatically tracks your spending. Just be sure to take a few minutes at the end of each day to check how much you’ve spent. Tracking your outgoing funds while on vacation will help to reduce impulse buys and keep your budget where you want it to be. 

Avoid the Crowds

Choosing a less-traveled destination has a positive impact on your budget, and your ability to avoid the crowds and relax on vacation. Craving a European vacation filled with history, art and architecture? Consider Prague or Istanbul for a cheaper alternative to London or Paris. Desperate for a few days of sun and sand? Forgo the beaches of Hawaii and instead head for Florida. Fort Meyers, Pensacola and Cocoa Beach all offer hot weather holiday options that won’t break the bank.

Rethink Your Souvenir Strategy

Shopping for souvenirs on vacation is fun, but the downside is two-fold: you usually spend more than intended, and it’s usually not on stuff you need. Change this around by making a calendar of upcoming birthdays and using your vacation souvenir shopping to tackle the gift list. Alternatively, ban souvenir shopping altogether and encourage yourself and your family to focus on the experiential elements of traveling, rather than thinking about what you can buy. After all: Memories last a lifetime!

Tags: Budgeting