8 Ways to Budget for Your Summer Vacation

Mother and daughter prepare to get in the water.
Mother and daughter prepare to get in the water at Eyster Pool on Fort Riley, Kansas. (U.S. Army/PFC Kenneth S Barnet)

When it's time to set a budget for the family's finances, the first thing that usually goes is the family's summer vacation. And it's easy to understand why in today's uncertain health and economic climate. We've grown accustomed to facing canceled plans, and it can feel easier to just avoid making them altogether, especially when cancellations carry hefty fees. Add that to the overall cost of travel, and staying close to home sounds like an even better option.

Losing thousands of dollars on a canceled family vacation would leave any consumer shell-shocked.

But, if you don't want to give up your summer vacation or spend a lot of money, follow these eight tips from the the American Financial Services Association Education Foundation (AFSAEF) to have an inexpensive summer vacation:

1. Set a budget and consider shorter trips or exploring the tourist spots where you live. That can help you cut down on costs of eating out, transportation and hotel fees.

2. Research, research, research. Check online for lower-priced airfares and hotel accommodations, and read the offers carefully. Search for discount codes online or ask about military discounts or perks when booking.

3. Determine a realistic gas allowance if you're planning a road trip. Gas prices can fluctuate wildly, so staying closer to home might be a more budget-friendly option if you'd rather spend your vacation dollars on things other than transportation.

4. Know the line of credit on your credit cards and daily withdrawal amounts allowed for your debit/ATM cards. Find out whether your ATM card is accepted at your destination without any additional fees.

5. Know the refund policies for your airline hotel, booking site, travel agent, etc. Check your airline’s refund policy and consider purchasing travel insurance. Check your credit card for any travel protections. Many credit cards give users insurance for trips purchased with the card.

6. If you're going to go on a road trip, get your car tuned up. Check the condition of your vehicle's tires, belts, battery and spark plugs a week or two before hitting the road. Maintenance is less expensive than emergency road service and helps maximize your gas mileage near home and on your trip.

7. Organize your packing. The "I'll buy it when I get there" philosophy can be an expensive one. Pack a few days in advance in order to avoid paying high prices at the hotel gift shop or convenience store to replace forgotten items. This seems like a simple step, but it can make a big difference.

8. Cut back on activities. Don't try to see every tourist attraction while you're on vacation. Try to spend more time relaxing and keep track of how much you're spending on a daily basis.

Bonus Tip: Take advantage of Space A travel. Space Available Flight, better known as Space A, is a unique privilege provided to service members, retirees and their families. If you have the time and flexibility, Space A travel can bring incredible discounts.

Keep More of Your Money

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