Did you go on a holiday this summer? Are you still dealing with the credit card bills from your vacation? Although summer 2017 is in the books, right now is the perfect time to get a head start on next summer so you can enjoy summer fun next year without the debt.
Budget-friendly vacation planning starts well in advance. Here is what you need to know.
Pay down your summer debt
“Before you start focusing on spending for next summer, you’ve got to get rid of the debt that you’ve accumulated this summer. It’s common for people to spend beyond their means on summer holidays, justified by the short season. The key to a debt-free summer holiday next year is to start with a clean slate,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
Determine how much you owe and develop a strategy to pay that debt down before you embark on next year’s adventure.
Set a budget
“Decide how much you can manage to put aside every month after you cover your expenses and put some money away towards retirement and emergency savings. The goal is to be able to pay for your holiday plans in cash. You can either pay in full when you travel next summer, or make small purchases (i.e. plane tickets, hotel reservations) over time when you’ve got the cash in the bank,” says Schwartz.
Once you’ve figured out how much you can spend, you’ll have a solid base to start planning responsibly.
Do you belong to any loyalty or rewards programs that could help cut travel costs for next summer? It takes a while to accumulate points, but they can go towards flights, hotels, car rentals or even attraction admissions. The good news is that you’ve got several months to put this strategy to work.
If the costs make sense, try to direct your purchases towards places that will generate rewards for you. Don’t use points as your focal point if you can get something cheaper at another store.
Are you planning on traveling to a destination that uses a different currency? Watch currency exchange rates and get in the habit of buying that currency when rates are favourable over the next several months. You can literally get more for less if you track rates.
Take advantage of the extended time window before you travel again to do some serious bargain hunting. For example, many restaurants offer “kids eat free” but it can take a little research to find where these places are and what some of the limitations are on these offers.
Budget vacation planning tips
Often you can get better airfares if you book several months in advance. One note- you’ll likely pay for your flights with your credit card; only do so when you’ve got the cash in the bank to pay for them to reduce carrying debt.
Usually you can get the best hotel deals by booking directly with the hotel, either online or by phone. If you are using a third party travel site, you can generally save money when you bundle things together (like flight+ hotel, or hotel + car).