After a long hiatus from traveling during the pandemic, many Americans are once again pulling their suitcases out of storage. While the impulse to go crazy with plans may be strong, you probably don’t want a vacation-debt hangover that lasts for months after your trip.
Before you hit the road – or the air – tally up anticipated expenses so you know what to expect. Once you get a fairly accurate picture of what your vacation will cost, then start manipulating the numbers to make it more affordable. Here are a few ways you can save:
- Search online for cheaper accommodations and flights. Aggregator websites like Google.com/travel/ and HotelsCombined.com will look through online travel agencies and hotel sites to find the best deals. Go to Orbitz.com, Travelocity.com, and Expedia.com for deals on flights, but don’t stop there. Go directly to the airlines’ websites to see if they offer even lower prices with fewer fees.
- Look for package deals. Some packages even include meals, a big expense for large families. If you’re traveling to a family reunion or meeting up with multiple families, check out group-booking sites such as Groople.com.
- Consider swapping homes. Trade homes with people who live where you want to spend your vacation and save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on hotel costs for a two-week vacation. Do a Google search for “home swap” or “home exchange”.
- Plan ahead to save on meals and snacks. Stay at hotels that include continental breakfast for guests. If your room has a minifridge, buy your favorite drinks and snacks and store them in it.
- Look for two-for-one coupons and other discounts. Check in the hotel lobby, area newspapers, and on the web for money-saving coupons for area attractions, tours and restaurant meals. Deals are out there for those who look for them.
Finally, figure out now how you’re going to pay for the vacation. A word of advice: Don’t let vacation debt linger for several months after you get back home. Plan to pay off credit-card debt in full when the bill arrives by using savings in combination with money from a home equity line of credit or small closed-end loan from the credit union. Loans and lines of credit likely have lower interest rates than most credit cards, so you can pay down that debt much faster.