Inflation continues to heat up finances this summer. Airline tickets, lodging, and gasoline are almost too hot for many households to touch. Soaring prices are causing people to rethink summer vacation plans. While canceling a big trip or even a weekend getaway might prevent your finances from overheating, using paid vacation employee benefits could help you enjoy a much-needed break and protect your mental health in surprising ways. Fortunately, there’s no need to sacrifice your finances for your well-being. Use these money-saving tips to plan a richly deserved summer vacation and give inflation the cold shoulder.
Baggage fees add up fast, especially when you travel by air. Unless you’re an airline rewards member, expect to pay a $30+ fee for the first bag and even more for a second one. In addition, pieces of luggage that weigh more than 50lbs can incur overweight fees. If traveling light is unavoidable, choose an airline that charges $0 for the first two checked bags.
Plan Your Route
Use the AAA Gas Cost Calculator to ensure you budget enough money to cover the cost of driving from point A to point B. Enter the starting location and destination city along with a few details about your vehicle to receive an estimated fuel cost for the trip.
Use Membership Benefits
You might have access to significant summer travel discounts and not even know it! The following organizations often provide free perks that help active members save money:
- Automobile membership clubs
- Civic organizations
- College alumni associations
- Credit unions
- Employers and trade unions
- Wholesale warehouse clubs
These groups, and many others, provide their members with unadvertised discounts on entertainment, food, and travel expenses. Confirm your membership and contact them today to learn how they can help keep vacation costs down.
Stay Close to Home
An extended weekend trip closer to home could help you avoid the cost and hassle of booking a flight and renting a car. Enjoy a change of scenery without emptying your wallet. Google “travel destinations near me” to uncover vacation ideas within 300 miles of home. An off-the-beaten-path vacation spot might be closer than you think. These underrated travel destinations typically have fewer tourists and lower prices.
Purchase Advance Tickets
Theme park, concert, and sporting event tickets are often cheaper if you pre-pay for them online and use promo codes. Waiting to buy tickets at the gate nearly guarantees you’ll pay full price. Signing up for artist or venue newsletters now could ensure you have first pick of discounts when they become available. Also, search online for existing e-discounts you can use at checkout.
Schedule Free and Low-cost Activities
Local Chambers of Commerce, libraries, and community centers are valuable sources of information about free events and activities scheduled to occur during your trip. Contact their help desks by phone or visit their websites to learn how to have fun while spending less. Add events that pique your interest to your travel calendar.
Download Money-saving Apps
Before hitting the road, download the right apps to your mobile device. Use an app to find the lowest gas prices, and receive cash back by filling up at specific locations. Other apps are available to help you locate restaurants with special discounts (e.g., kids eat free, BOGO offers, etc.).
Redeem Reward Points
Some credit cards, like the Hanscom FCU's CASH + REWARDS World Mastercard® credit card, allow you to use points earned from qualified purchases and redeem them for cash back, gas and restaurant gift cards, and travel experiences. Check your credit card statement to determine if you have points, and follow redemption instructions.
Access Credit Card Travel Benefits
Paying for your vacation with a credit card can be a smart financial decision since it could save a significant amount of cash. The card could help you avoid paying for unnecessary insurance coverage or extra services. For example, you could:
- Decline rental car insurance coverage if you have adequate personal car insurance and pay with a credit card that includes a loss damage waiver
- Skip travel insurance (if your credit card offers this free perk)
- Access personal concierge or travel advisory services to help with various aspects of your trip at no additional charge
Be sure you have a plan to repay credit card spending that includes making more than the minimum required payment each month. This will help reduce the amount you pay in interest charges and, by extension, the overall cost of your vacation. Nixing summer plans due to inflation can be costly — for your emotional well-being. Fortunately, it takes only a bit of planning to get away this season without burning a hole in your wallet.
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