May 9, 2014
Summer vacation is right around the corner. I'm not a big believer in pre-planning every single detail – sometimes the best vacation moments are spontaneous. But unless your rich uncle is paying for the trip, you'll need to do a certain amount of preparation or your budget will fly out the window.
You do have a vacation budget, right? If not, here are a few suggestions for creating one and some cost-saving ideas to help keep expenses down:
First, be realistic about what you can afford. If your vacation will take more than a month or two to pay off, you may want to scale back on this year's trip and start setting aside money now for next year.
When building a trip budget, try to anticipate all potential expenses. Consider things like:
Search for deals on flights, hotels and rental cars at comparison sites like Orbitz.com, Kayak.com, Priceline.com, Hotwire.com, Hotels.com and Travelzoo.com. But beware: Before clicking "confirm," make sure the final price matches the initial quote. I've seen fares jump $50 or more in just minutes or had the seat I was booking suddenly become unavailable.
A few additional tips:
Practical Money Skills for Life, a free personal financial management program run by Visa Inc., has a handy web-based travel calculator that can help you estimate travel costs and rejigger them to meet your budget needs (www.practicalmoneyskills.com/calculators). It's also available as a free iPhone app, which you can download from iTunes.
Bottom line: A little preplanning now can ensure you don't blow your whole budget on unexpected vacation expenses.
Recent Practical Money Matters
This article is intended to provide general information and should not be considered health, legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.