With spring break right around the corner, you may be planning a vacation or hoping that you’d be able to swing a last-minute getaway. Be warned though, taking a vacation can be a budget-buster that can add to your debt load.
“When it comes to vacationing, planning is crucial in every way to avoid overspending. It’s a good idea to start saving up for your vacation well in advance so that things are paid for before you even leave home. If you do use your credit card to book travel, pay it off before your trip so you can avoid credit and stay on budget” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“There are a number of expenses that people commonly overspend on, like food, accommodation and activities which you can avoid by careful budgeting,” says Schwartz.
Here are some tips on how you can avoid credit and stay on budget during spring break:
Pay in cash
Set a budget for your holiday, including travel, accommodation, activities and food. Similarly to when you are at home when you are trying to stay on budget, pay cash for everything on your trip. Leave some wiggle room in your budget, just in case you encounter an emergency expense.
Eating while travelling is one of the biggest and most variable costs, which means that it could be the greatest threat to your budget. Wherever possible, book a hotel that has breakfast included or has kitchen facilities in the room. When you can prepare your own food, you will save automatically.
Find out about travel insurance
While it is a good idea to protect yourself with insurance, don’t over pay or pay twice for coverage. Many credit cards offer travel insurance as a card holder benefit, so if you booked your trip on a card, you may already be covered. Similarly, you might have some kind of coverage through your employer or through association memberships. Double check details and fine print of your coverage.
Many airlines charge for checked luggage, so packing smart can really reduce your travel costs. Pick a few versatile items that can do double duty. Better yet, bring your carryon luggage only. You’ll avoid the sometimes hefty luggage charges and skip the large line ups at the baggage collection area when you deplane. So go ahead and pack a bar of laundry soap and a stain remover; you’ll get lots of mileage out of only a few items.
Use public transportation
Whenever you can, use public transportation instead of taking taxis. Many hotels offer free (or inexpensive) shuttles from hotels and to area attractions. Even if you’ve driven to your destination, it can be worth leaving your car in free hotel parking, using public transport and saving on gas and additional parking fees.
Save on accommodation
Hotel prices vary widely, so book wisely. Consider choosing a hotel in the suburbs rather than downtown, as you’ll pay a premium for urban locations. Many hotels will offer a discount on your room if you prepay. This helps with your budgeting and also lets you save money at the same time. Sometimes you can get the best deal if you deal directly with the hotel.
To save even more money, consider B&Bs, non-chain hotels, or private home and/or room rentals.
Don’t pay gate prices
Like with a number of other travel expenses, you can save a great deal by doing research and booking ahead for things like attractions and points of interest. If you pre-purchase tickets, you can often get a deep discount. Do internet searches before you buy for promo codes and coupons for more savings.
Use your rewards
If you belong to a reward programs, see what you can get for what you have. You may not have enough for a flight or a hotel stay, but you might have enough for an attraction ticket or a restaurant gift card. Every dollar you don’t have to spend will help you stay on budget.
Do you dream of a vacation, but a growing debt load has grounded your travel plans? Pay your debt down today and start saving for next spring break. Let’s walk you through it, call one of our trained credit counsellors at 1-888-294-3130 or visit our free online debt analysis.