While soaring fuel and airfare costs have added to summer travel woes, there are ways you can can afford to travel this summer. According to Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board of Standards Consumer Advocate Eleanor Blayney, summer revelers can still have a relaxing vacation away from home by using creative financial planning to save money.
There may be no getting around the higher costs of travel – whether by car, train, or plane. You need to focus on all the other expense items of your vacation for opportunities to save, says Blayney.
Here are a few ways to make travel more affordable this year:
- Plan in advance
Map out how you will spend each day of your vacation – where you will eat, what you will do, what you will buy – and approximately what each activity will cost. Knowing your costs beforehand is a powerful budgeting tool, whereas leaving everything to chance, proximity, and hunger pangs can get expensive. Planning can heighten and extend the fun of the actual excursion.
- Get everyone in on the act
If you are taking a family vacation, give everyone including children budget responsibility for one aspect of the trip. Have that ten-year old manage the snack or bottled water expenses; a teen can be responsible for lunches or sightseeing expenses. You can even make it a contest: best budget manager gets a splurge allowance.
- Consider a home swap or hospitality exchange
In the first case, you actually trade homes for a specified time with a person or family living in the area you wish to visit. In the second case, you host travelers in your home, and then are hosted by them in return. These arrangements are generally far less costly than hotels or vacation rentals. The internet has greatly facilitated and broadened the market for home exchanges, particularly in the case of foreign travel. Just exercise caution and do your homework before entering into any agreements.
- Revisit a place
It's always in budget to return to a favorite place rather than someplace new. Similar to the benefits of advance planning, going back to a place you have visited before provides important pre-travel information you can use to keep your expenses in check. You will already have a good idea of the places to eat, to stay, to visit and to shop, and can make cost-effective choices accordingly.
- Become a tourist in your city
If you still may not be able to balance your vacations plans with your budget, an alternative is to stay at a local hotel, and plan your days as a tourist, seeing and doing things you assumed you could have done during your vacation outside the city.