Sizzle into Summer Vacation Savings
By, Carla Hindman, Director of Financial Education, Visa Canada
It's summer in the city! And that means it might be time to start vacation planning. It's easy to get carried away under the sun with souvenirs, eating at restaurants and upgrading your accommodations. After all, how often do you treat yourself and go on a holiday? But the last thing you want is to face a big bill come fall.
So what can you do to keep summer travel costs down? Below are some tips to help you take a well-deserved break, without breaking the bank:
Be realistic about what you can afford. Hey, we all want an amazing, no-holds-barred vacation, but choosing a trip you can't afford can be almost as stressful as no vacation at all. So examine how vacation spending will affect your overall budget.
Create a trip budget. As always, planning ahead and making a reasonable vacation budget before you travel will help reduce the likelihood of getting a financial sunburn from your trip. Check out this free online Travel Calculator, which can help you estimate travel costs and rejig your plans to meet your budget needs. It's amazing how quickly unanticipated expenses can torpedo your budget. Consider things like:
- Airfare – while taxes are now included in the ticket price, don't forget baggage fees, transportation to and from the airport, and in-flight meals – these can quickly add up.
- Car rentals – factor in taxes, gas, fill-up penalties and insurance (make sure you understand check your auto insurance and credit card policies to see if you already have coverage for rentals).
- Hotel/lodging – don't forget taxes and other fees, like charges for wifi.
- Entertainment – depending on where you are going, this could include event admission and ticket-ordering charges, transit passes or taxis, sporting equipment rental, babysitters or a host of other things.
Start a dedicated travel fund. It's easier to save when you have a specific goal in mind. Think about where you want to go, research how much it costs and try to put a little bit away all year long to save up.
Shop around. There are a wealth of sites that make it easy to compare prices for airlines, hotels and rental car companies. It's a savvy traveller's world – take advantage of it!
Expect the unexpected. Credit cards get lost. Flights get delayed. Storms arrive unexpectedly. Let's call these the “what ifs” of travelling. It's a good idea to set aside 10 to 15 per cent of your travel budget for unanticipated expenses.
Hotel/Lodging. Before reserving a hotel online, call them to see if they can beat the proposed rate. Also ask for member discounts for organizations you belong to, such as CAA.
Use cheaper transportation. There's no better way to explore a new city than on foot! You can also check out public transit and bike rental options as they may be more cost-effective than taxis or car rentals.
Share your trip. Splitting the cost of accommodations, like a vacation house, with friends and family can help cut costs. It will also allow you to create lifelong memories with the people closest to you.
Bottom Line: Don't pass up a vacation – you've earned it. Just be cautious about how expenses can add up.
This article is intended to provide general information and should not be considered 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.