Summer is here, and many families are contemplating a vacation. Rising inflation is in the back of everyone’s mind causing many to hesitate. Current inflation on consumer prices has been at 8.6 percent, and no one seems to see an end.
Families want to be fiscally responsible yet continue to live life. Places across the country have had strict lockdowns or restrictions, and most are itching to get out. What to do?
If you’re on the fence, be thoughtful about how to vacation without going broke. There is little worse than needing a vacation from your vacation because of the stress it caused to your finances in the first place. Another essential factor to consider is your current debt and how to effectively manage it before, during, and after the vacation.
Vacation Smarter, Not Harder
Traveling can have a lasting effect on our happiness and general well-being. More than pure entertainment, many of us need a change of environment to stimulate creativity, perspective, and the will to continue pushing forward in tough times. A summer vacation might be what you need. Before you go, take heed to these tips to maximize your finances while you’re away:
Create a Budget
Rather than setting aside a set amount of money and hoping it’ll last throughout your trip (inevitably, you’ll spend more this way), take some time to map out how and where you’ll spend it. Gas isn’t cheap, and neither are flights, be it on a flight or a long drive, travel will likely be the most significant expense.
Well in advance, look for the best deals on flights. It may be a good idea to choose a destination that has less expensive flights but still has an appeal your family will enjoy. According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), energy commodities are at a 50.3 percent increase. One great way to save on a road trip is to buy gas in cash. Many gas stations will give a discount if you pay in cash. Budget an estimated amount you’ll spend and keep the money in an envelope for the trip. You’ll save on gas and ATM fees.
Often the second biggest expense of a vacation is food, a commodity increasingly affected by inflation. The average food markup at a restaurant is roughly 300 percent. Three meals a day, snacks, cocktails, and other consumables add up. Consider trimming back by planning.
When booking a hotel, find out if they have a complimentary breakfast. If not, find out if they have a mini-fridge in the room. A quick run to the grocery store can prevent a significant expense. Breakfast is one of the easiest ways to save. Overnight oats, Keurig coffee pods (most hotels have a Keurig coffee maker in the room), and non-refrigerated fruit like bananas and apples, cold cereal, and orange juice are all great options to have on hand
Another considerable vacation expense can be lodging. Hotel costs have increased exponentially since the rise of inflation, but there are alternatives. A hostel can be a great option if you’re traveling abroad solo or with one other person. You’re likely to share a room with others, but you get a bed and might make a few new friends in the experience.
Vrbo and Airbnb are great places to look for affordable vacation rentals. Of course, these costs have risen with inflation, but they can be advantageous because of the amenities. They often have a kitchen to cook food (a money saver) and a yard to lounge or play games, which is typically a better fit for families.
Set a Limit
When we’re feeling good in a relaxed setting, it’s easy to overspend. Both excursions and alcohol tend to gobble up funds the fastest, so be sure to factor in what you can spend. A great way to prevent overdoing it is to buy a prepaid Visa with your set amount. You can regularly check the balance to make thoughtful decisions; once you run out, you can’t spend more money.
A slew of discounts is out there, be sure to capitalize. Veterans, first responders, and AAA members can get discounts on many goods and services. Don’t be shy about asking if a retailer offers one.
Online coupon codes are another way to save big on trips. Launch Google, enter your desired retailer’s name, and then “coupon code.” You’ll be surprised at all the promotional codes you’ll likely find. Download a printable coupon or put the code in your online shopping cart. Planning ahead of time will save a bunch at your end destination.
The last thing anyone wants to worry about while on vacation is looming debt. Outstanding debt is a person’s most significant liability in an inflationary environment. Getting a handle on it now will save many heartaches when you return home from a relaxing getaway. Inflation doesn’t seem to have an end in sight, but high-interest debt can have one. Do yourself a favor and partner with a professional to explore your options. Advocate Debt Relief is standing by to hear your concerns and help you find a solution.