Spring Break Budgeting Tips
By, Carla Hindman, Director of Financial Education, Visa Canada
As spring break approaches, some families may be planning vacations to take advantage of the much-needed time off work or school. But worrying about paying for the vacation can sometimes take the "fun out of the sun". Here are some tips to help you plan your trip wisely:
Create a budget. Before you decide on a travel destination, or plan activities, figure out how much you can afford. The main categories to consider when creating a vacation budget are transportation, accommodation, meals, sightseeing, shopping and entertainment.
Make sure to include the less obvious costs such as checked baggage fees, sales and hotel taxes, tips and taxis in your budget. Travelling often comes with unexpected expenses, so when budgeting for your trip add an extra 10 per cent more than you anticipate. That way, instead of scrambling for cash at the end of your trip you may end up with a little extra to spend or even be able to save for your next trip!
Start saving. Once you have determined your vacation's 'price tag', figure out how much you'll need to save. If you need some help setting aside cash, there are personal finance tools that can help, such as the Practical Money Skills Travel Budgeting Calculator.
Shop around. Look for vacation deals and packages online. Travel websites often feature airline, hotel or car rental coupons and promotions. And if you have trouble tearing your kids away from their smartphones, this may be the perfect opportunity for a teachable moment! Have your kids help research potential locations and costs online. The technology they are using can be very effective in budgeting, pricing and planning travel.
Sign up for local discount websites. Before travelling, consider signing up for discount websites at your destination and be on the lookout for great deals on restaurants and excursions. Often these sites offer two-for-one coupons, which can allow you to get more bang for your buck.
Call directly. Calling the airline or hotel to book reservations directly can save you money, allowing you to spend more on the fun stuff. If you're ok with last minute plans, you can also find hotel deals as the vacation date approaches when last-minute available rooms need to be filled. The same applies for last minute flights.
Consider a road trip. Driving is typically less expensive than flying. If you are travelling with friends, you can all pitch in to cover expenses. Plus, stops along the way can lead to unexpected adventures!
Put your membership dollars to work. If you belong to an auto club or have credit cards with particular travel benefits, see if they can be used to offset the cost of the trip, or to access deals and discounts at your destination.
Get a phone package. If you plan to take a mobile phone, avoid roaming charges by setting up a travel package with your service provider in advance.
Following these tips can help you enjoy spring break without financial regrets once you come back to 'reality'. A budget may seem restrictive, but it will keep you from worrying about money so you can focus on having fun.
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.