For many Americans, taking a family vacation is an annual tradition. Whether it’s visiting relatives across the state, friends across the country or even flying to some far-off region – more than two-thirds of Americans report that they plan to take a vacation this summer. And they’re budgeting $2,373 on average for their vacation travel. That’s a lot of money! Luckily, The Massachusetts Society of CPAs has tips to help you and your family save money on your vacation this summer.
Generally speaking, the longer you give yourself to research different vacation destinations, the better chance you’ll have of finding a good deal. Many popular destinations fill up quickly during the summer months and if there is an attraction you want to visit, you’ll want to know if it’s likely to sell out. What’s more, by doing research online into different housing options (hotels or rental properties or even campgrounds) while they are all still available, you’ll have the opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of each of them and see if you have an opportunity to save money.
If you’re considering flying to your destination, research the general price range of flights. That will allow you enough lead time to monitor sales and find a ticket within your budget. Having your dates for the summer in advance also gives you the opportunity to set online price alerts and monitor airlines for any sales that airlines may have weeks or even months in advance of your travel dates.
…But have some flexibility
In addition to advance sales, there are many websites available that offer last-minute deals. This is a great option for people who ‘just want to get away’ but don’t necessarily have a destination in mind. If you and your travel companions are the spontaneous type, it might make sense to identify a block of dates that work and define some parameters for what you want in a vacation – perhaps you’d like to visit a city where you can watch a baseball game or you’re looking to spend some time lounging by the pool in temperatures warmer (or cooler) than the weather at home. Once you’ve come up with dates and some general goals for your destination, begin searching for locations that meet your requirements and see what sort of deals may be available. The option of combining hotel and airfare through a travel website can often save hundreds of dollars if you’re not particular about the airline you fly or hotel chain you’re staying in. However, be sure to use only reputable, vetted websites. And with any travel purchase take the time to understand refund and cancellation policies before you make the purchase.
Use those points!
Travel rewards points – and points from credit and debit cards that can be converted to be used for travel – are a great option to save some money. Despite this fact, a survey from the American Institute of CPAs found that only seven percent of all Americans used reward points to pay for part of their last vacation.
This summer, you can change that! You’ve already gone through the process of spending your money to earn them, so getting a hotel room or flight for free or at a discount is your “reward.” Many people don’t realize the true value of their points, but luckily there are multiple websites that specialize in this type of information.
No matter what your plans are this summer, before you book your travel you should have a plan in mind to pay off the costs without incurring interest charges. Vacations should be about getting away and having fun – and you should be left with photos and memories, not credit card debt.