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After months of being stuck at home, many of us are eager to pack our bags and experience new places and adventures. Maybe you long for a little R & R on a hot, white, sandy beach with a pink umbrella drink. Or perhaps you have your pair of Mickey Mouse ears packed for some fun family time before the chaos of a new school year. Or maybe you’ve been brushing up on a new language for the chance to say, “Au Revoir!” to your friends as you board a plane to cross the pond. It can be fun dreaming up your next vacation; however, the fun often stops when you get to the price tag.
In a recent survey by The Vacationer, 80% of American adults intend to travel this summer, but many households may find it hard to justify the cost during this economy. So, the question is, how can you make your vacation dreams come true without breaking the bank?
Here are five tricks for budgeting for your next solo or family trip.
Do your research
A spontaneous weekend away can be fun; however, planning ahead can help ensure you’re getting the best deals. Traveling in the off-season often means lower hotel and airline prices (and shorter lines!). Sites like Hopper and Scott’s Cheap Flights can help you keep an eye on airline deals. What types of activities will you do? Look for free attractions and low-cost opportunities like walking tours, museum discount days, or visiting a local park or playground.
Make a vacation budget
Before taking a trip, it’s smart to examine your finances. You want to make sure taking a vacation makes sense for your current financial situation and goals. Next, begin to estimate your travel costs, lodging, transportation, activities, pet care, food, etc. As a rule of thumb, your vacation budget should be 40% lodging, 25% transportation, 25% food and 10% activities. Of course, you can customize this depending upon your vacation priorities—there are plenty of free vacation budget worksheets online to help. If you have several months before your trip, consider opening an automated savings account exclusively for your vacation funds. This way you’ll save the money before you ever get a chance to spend it!
Watch out for added expenses
While airline flights can make up the bulk of your vacation budget, consider how you’ll get to and from the airport. Will you use a taxi or ride-sharing apps like Lyft or Uber? You’ll likely find it less expensive to take public transportation rather than renting a car when considering the cost of fuel and tolls. Maybe try pedaling your way through town on a bicycle, which has become increasingly popular in major cities. Buses and trains can also be an affordable and convenient way to get around (especially if traveling abroad). Be sure to do your research to know what’s available.
If you’re road-tripping it this summer, don’t forget to pack a cooler! Bringing your own food and drinks while you drive to your destination can help you cut down on extra money spent at the drive-thru and convenience stores. Fresh produce such as apples, bananas and baby carrots are easy to pack and chock full of vitamins. PS: Don’t forget your refillable water bottle!
Don’t go out to eat for every meal
If you have access to a kitchen, plan out some easy meals you can whip up at home. Visit a local grocery store or market and you’ll find different types of foods that you wouldn’t necessarily find at home. Cooking your own meals is a surefire way to save a couple $100 (plus tip) on your next vacation.
Taking a vacation doesn’t have to cost a fortune or be overwhelming. Be sure to do your homework before planning your next best adventure.
About the Author
Organizations are in a constant state of change and the Kinetiq Health team supports them every step of the way. A unique formula of people, processes and technologies enables our team to keep an educated eye on the financial and clinical implications of data to move organizations toward improved financial health and employee well-being.