Keep Summer Travel Fun and Budget-Friendly

Jen Bailey

After a long week at work and running the kids all over creation, you can’t help but close your eyes and imagine yourself someplace where the sun is shining on your face, the warm breeze is combing through your hair, your stresses are melting away, and your pocketbook isn’t being stripped of every last dollar. Sounds nice, huh? Well it can be done! It seems that there may indeed be a magic formula for keeping summer travel budget-friendly. The formula is saving + planning ahead + thinking outside the box + using your resources = budget-friendly summer travel. Let’s break it down!

Save Up

The best way to ensure budget-friendly summer travel is to save for it! Add travel as a line item to your monthly budget.

"By setting aside just $50 per month, you can be on your way to that luxurious cruise you have always dreamed of taking." -- Jen Bailey, digital marketing professional for WESTconsin Credit Union.

Obviously the more you save, either the more often you can travel or the more elaborate your vacation can be. Depending on how important travel is to you, you may adjust your budget accordingly. Remember, to keep your travel budget-friendly, use cash whenever possible and make sure to pay off any credit cards used for travel purposes in full each month.

Plan Ahead

Start planning your travel at least six months ahead for optimal savings. This allows you the time you need to properly research your destination and shop for the best prices on travel, accommodations, and activities. Sign up to receive emails from airlines, cruise lines, hotels, and attractions for last-minute deals and upcoming promotions – you can always unsubscribe once your travel is complete. Also, watch their social media pages for even more last-minute deals and giveaways!

Think Outside the Box

Instead of reserving a hotel room for $100 or more per night, consider a vacation rental. Vacation rentals can be booked through websites such as VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) or Airbnb. Not only are vacation rentals often less expensive than hotel rooms, they typically have kitchens which allow you to prepare your food at a fraction of the cost of eating out. And if you must or prefer to book a hotel – re-shop, re-shop, re-shop! Book your hotel and then watch for deals advertised by the hotel and rebook your stay. Taking a flight to your destination? Use search engines such as Expedia, Kayak, and Booking.com, but then search the airline’s site directly and compare prices. And now is the time to use those airline miles you have saved up from your credit card’s rewards program. Or, perhaps you prefer to drive. Great! Use this as a chance to add a variety of sight-seeing opportunities to your trip. And if you would rather not put the miles on your vehicle, consider renting one.

Use Your Resources

Use your resources to find the tips and tricks of vacationing at your destination. Start by using your credit card’s rewards program not only for airline miles, but for gift cards, hotel stays, and tickets. Search tourism and visitor bureau websites for activities to do at little or no cost. And, if you have family or friends in or around your destination, ask them for suggestions of what to do and see. Perhaps they would even let you crash with them for a night or two.

Most importantly, remember that the purpose of travel is to have fun, relax, and enjoy time with the people who mean the most to you. By keeping your travel budget-friendly, you are less likely to worry and stress; and you are more likely to avoid paying for your vacation for months to come afterward.

Jen Bailey is a digital marketing professional for WESTconsin Credit Union, a Community Partner of Chippewa Valley Family. She says “thank you” to Tessa Haugle, Darren Kirby, and Hannah O’Rourke for their insights and advice as budget-friendly travel experts.

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