Your bags are packed. The weather looks perfect. Your out-of-office message is prepped. But you’re worried about blowing your vacation budget. Before we start planning those perfect vacations, let’s look at some fun facts.
- Vacation spending is equal to about 2% of the total budgets of all US households annually.
- The average American takes four vacations per year.
- On average, $1,979 is spent on summer vacations according to a recent Bankrate Survey.
That’s a hefty chunk of change, and the last thing you want to do is stress over expenses instead of enjoying your well-earned time off. By taking a few simple steps before, during, and after your trip, you can ensure that you return home refreshed and relaxed, instead of biting your nails over the bills.
How to make sure your vacation doesn’t spiral out of control.
One of the biggest reasons that vacations become extremely expensive is that we all let go of our spending controls when we’re away from home. It’s easy to spend several hundred dollars a day on food and activities when on vacation and not even realize it. The best way to curb this is to set a daily food allowance or take it one step further and plan out an activity budget before going on vacation. Make sure that you track how much you are planning on spending and then keep in mind how much you actually are spending so that you can make real-time changes to stay on budget each day. Feel free to splurge on breakfast or lunch as long as you take it into consideration when planning dinner or other activities that day.
How to avoid vacation fraud and travel scams.
Don’t pay with wire transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrency. Wiring money is a favorite of scam artists. Also, do your research and see what others are saying about your vacation booking before you commit. It is also important to understand that if someone asks you to pay them directly when you are renting through a service, it could be a sign of fraud. Always know who you are paying and that you get documentation of your payment.
How to lower expenses for your vacation.
One way to save money when traveling is to visit at off-peak times and have flexible travel plans so that you can book closer to when you leave. This tactic can often get you discounts as places look to book their rooms in advance. Another important move is to wait until you arrive to plan all of your activities as you can likely get discounts while you are there. Don’t forget to look for free activities so that you are not spending money on activities every day. Finally, consider not eating every meal out while on vacation as food can be one of the most expensive costs after lodging and travel expenses.
When you return, check your accounts.
Using a mix of cash, credit, and debit cards gets confusing. Do a quick audit when you get back home to check if you went off track — and to make sure no unauthorized charges sneaked onto your account.
Build your savings back up.
Came in under budget? Put that money into your savings account when you return. Spent a little extra? Create a plan for replenishing the cash you dipped into, like shifting a fixed amount of your paycheck into savings each week.
Start planning your next trip.
33% of Americans left vacation time unused in 2021! Having a vacation to look forward to is proven to increase happiness so start dreaming and planning a destination for your next trip!