Planning a debt-free vacation is ideal. But traveling is costly, and the expenses can really stack up when it comes to vacations. Many people end up piling debt onto their credit cards just to travel to exciting destinations or get some rest and relaxation.
If you want to plan a vacation this year without going into debt, you need to look for ways to reduce your travel costs. Here are some tips for planning a debt free vacation:
1. Plan Ahead and Create a Budget
Before you start booking flights and hotels, you should create a budget. Set a realistic number you can afford to spend on a vacation. The figure you arrive at should be attainable based on your income, or by saving enough to completely pay for your trip by the time you leave.
Your budget should include allowances for all expenses, including hotels, flights, meals, gas and other costs. Creating a realistic budget may mean you need to adjust your expectations – a budget trip won’t include all the perks of a luxury vacation. If you’re strapped for cash, a camping vacation or road trip may be more affordable.
2. Start Saving
When you have a budget, you can start putting aside money each month to reach your goal. Even if you don’t have a budget nailed down, starting to save now can help you build a solid vacation fund.
You may want to open a separate savings account specifically for your vacation and set up automatic monthly deposits. That way, you’ll be less likely to dip into your fund and you won’t forget to save.
3. Look for All-Inclusive Packages
It’s hard to budget for meals and entertainment ahead of time, as you can’t always know what restaurants you’ll be eating at or what activities you want to participate in. All-inclusive cruises and resorts can save money on these expenses. While they may appear expensive up front, food and beverage packages can actually save money in the big picture. Make sure to evaluate the cost of inclusive trips if the idea seems appealing to you.
4. Look for Bargains on Social Media
Follow travel deal websites and tourist groups online and on social media platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest. They’ll often post deals you won’t find on other corners of the internet.
5. Be Flexible on Travel Dates
If you only travel on weekends or fly at peak times, you could be missing great deals. Staying in hotels during the week and catching late or early flights can help reduce your travel costs.
6. Use Your Credit Card Perks
While you want to avoid a hefty credit card balance, that doesn’t mean you need to reject using your credit card to book travel. Many credit cards include travel benefits like trip cancellation insurance, rental car insurance and other perks when you use your card to pay.
If you’ve been saving up cash-back rewards or travel points, now might be the time to cash them in. You can redeem your rewards for travel expenses and cut the cost of your trip.
Just remember to pay off the expenses as you incur them. Otherwise, you could end up paying interest on your purchases or rack up too much debt.