Would you love to take a family vacay before school starts? It can be expensive but I have some great financial advice from TTCU Consumer Advocate, Remar Sutton. He says that a little time spent exploring your options online and via phone can save you big bucks.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Preplan—Preview your needs, wants, and requirements for you vacation. Ask yourself,
- Where would you like to go? Choose at least two options. One might be a road trip fairly near your home. Another might be a trip farther away, perhaps to a family resort.
- What budget can you afford for a vacation?
- When can you go? Can you be flexible about the time of year you go? How about the days of the week?
- Who is going on vacation? If a family vacation, how many people and what ages?
2. Set a budget
- Deciding how much you have to spend before you select a vacation venue is the best way to save overall. Charging vacation expenses now and paying them later invariably leads to spending more.
- Save ahead to pay for vacations perhaps in a dedicated savings account at your credit union and have a set amount direct deposited from your regular account each month.
- Have a yard sale and put the proceeds into the vacation fund. Or sell items you no longer use or need on eBay or other sites.
3. Be Flexible
- Going to vacation locations during off season usually means saving money on transportation and lodging. Many resorts offer lower prices and package deals during off seasons or "shoulder" seasons. Cruise lines typically offer lower prices on "repositioning" cruises when they move from summer to winter routes and back again.
- Airfares can vary widely depending on the days of the week you fly. Tuesday and Wednesday are usually least expensive, for instance.
- Staying outside a popular locale rather than right in the center may offer savings. For example, staying at a motel, bed and breakfast or vacation rental a few miles outside a popular resort or city may save hundreds.
4. Research and Compare Options
- There are lots of online travel resources in this updated Remar’s Report, that you can use to compare airfares, rental cars, and lodging among other options.
- Use consumer review sites such as TripAdvisor.com to help you compare options, particularly for hotels.
5. Compare Package Deals to Do-It-Yourself
Sometimes a package deal—whether offered by a resort, travel agency, or online aggregator—can be a good deal. But you won’t know unless you breakdown the parts and compare them. If you have a family of four or five, for example, then booking a vacation rental home may enable you to save more and have more space and more flexibility in dining than a package vacation.
6. "Go Local" at Your Vacation Locale
What this means is that you look for deals, particularly for dining, entertainment and recreational activities, specific to the local area. Sign up for Groupon and Scoutmob, for example. Check websites of local news outlets, visitor’s bureaus, and city and county government for current activities, coupons and the like. Ask local residents, such as shop salespeople, where they like to eat and what they like to do. Use Yelp.com and other review sites.
Make those precious family memories without breaking the bank! Be sure to get all of Remar Sutton's advice on getting the most out of your vacation dollars in his full article on the TTCU website.
These tips are provided by TTCU the Credit Union.