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PERSONAL FINANCE

May 23, 2024

Sticking to Your Vacation Budget

You stuck to your travel budget and saved the money you needed for your next big vacation. You made the reservations and packed your new resort wear. Now, the challenge is to stick to your budget while you travel. If you can do that, you will make great memories on this trip and not have any financial regrets when you get back home. Here are some tips that can help:

 

Prepare Your Travel Finances

A successful trip begins with a plan. When you created your travel budget, you made a plan to save the money you’d need for this trip. Now, you need a plan to spend that money while you are away. A portion of it is already allocated to the big-ticket items for your trip, like airfare and hotels. Here’s what you need to do to prepare for the daily and incidental expenses:

 

  • Pack your credit cards. Review the balance, interest rate, and benefits on your credit cards to determine which one should be your primary vacation card. Consider bringing a second credit card just in case your first card is declined – but keep it in a different place to minimize your potential loss if your wallet is lost or stolen. Notify your financial institution that you’re traveling so that they don’t flag your transactions and photocopy both sides of all cards so that you have numbers and contact information in case of loss.
  • Pack your debit card. You will want to pack a debit card in case you need access to additional cash or use it to get withdraw currency of the country you’re visiting. Notify your financial institution that you’re traveling.
  • Decide how much cash to carry. Cash is especially handy when you travel for purchases like short taxi rides, snacks at the airport, and tipping. There will be some things that you can’t pay for with a credit card and some local vendors you may not feel comfortable handing your credit card to. Consider how much of your vacation expenses are already paid for and how much money your budget will allow you to spend on incidentals each day. If you are traveling internationally, you will have to convert your cash to different currencies.

 

Protect Yourself From Travel Fraud

You worked hard to earn the money for your trip. Now you should have the privilege of deciding how to spend it. Unfortunately, traveling makes you more vulnerable to fraud. Taking a few precautions can keep your hard-earned money out of the hands of scammers.

 

  • Know which travel and hotel companies you are dealing with. When you book your trip through an online discounter, it is easy to get confused about what companies you are dealing with, which airline you are flying, and what hotel chain you are staying with. Saving money is great for your travel budget, but you want to be careful you don’t fall into an online travel scam. Be sure you are contacting the travel companies to make payment, and never give anyone your credit card information if they contact you.
  • Learn about current financial scams in the area you are traveling to. This is especially important if you are traveling internationally or to a different region of the country. Spend a few minutes searching the internet to learn about local scams. If someone is passing counterfeit currency or staking out ATMs, you should be aware of it. Always keep track of your cash wherever you travel, and pay special attention to your surroundings when you make cash transactions. Tourists can be easy targets for criminals because they are often distracted by the unknown environment.
  • Review good travel safety tips. Even if you are an experienced traveler, it is a good idea to review travel safety practices. You’ll need to safeguard your valuables differently in a strange environment than you would on your home turf. Use the safe in your hotel room, keep your wallet in your front pocket, and follow all the other tips for keeping your money and credit cards safe while you travel.

 

Stick With Your Budget

You began your travel planning by making some good financial decisions about how much money to spend on this vacation. Now, if you can stick to that budget while you’re traveling, you could return home with memories of a great adventure and the satisfied feeling of a successful budgeting experience. Here are some tips to help you stick to your travel budget:

 

  • Say no to overpriced meals and activities. You’re on vacation for new experiences, and you want to taste the local flavors. But you still want to be a savvy shopper. Usually, the hotel restaurant is the most expensive place to eat. Find places where the locals eat to get the best value. Booking tours and activities through your hotel or cruise ship will also cost more. Often, you can find local tour guides who charge less. Keep in mind, too, that you don’t have to do every activity available to enjoy your vacation.
  • Prepay large expenses when possible. Managing your vacation budget will be easier if your airfare and hotel accommodations are prepaid. You may also want to look into paying for expensive activities in advance, like attraction tickets or excursions. This way you can make those big financial decisions calmly in advance and have a smaller portion of your travel budget to manage while you are away. Using a credit card to prepay large expenses and then paying off the card before you leave will also help you manage your expenses.
  • Give yourself a daily allowance. You don’t want to end up spending all your travel money on the first day. Divide up the amount of money you have left in your budget by the number of days on your vacation and decide how much money you can spend each day. You can always adjust as you go, adding unspent allowance from one day to the next.
  • Keep track of your expenditures. Just like at home, it will help you stick to your budget if you track your expenditures. You can add up your receipts at the end of each day or check your credit card account online. Note how much you spend overall each day and how much you spend on food. This information will help you adjust your daily allowance and let you know if you are in danger of running out of money before the end of your trip.
  • Buy your own food and alcohol. Food and drinks can become the most expensive part of your trip if you are not careful. If a nice night out is what you like, plan to offset the cost by purchasing breakfast and lunch foods at a local market. You could even visit a liquor store to get supplies for a daily happy hour in your hotel room before heading out to dinner.
  • Avoid impulse purchases. When you are on vacation, it is easy to get caught up in the moment and make large impulse purchases. Try to slow down your financial decision making while you are traveling. If there is something you want to buy, don’t let the vendor rush you into a decision. Think about whether it is something you could buy after you get back home. Consider how you will get the item home if it is large or fragile. Finally, plan to sleep on it and return to the store the next day if you really want to make the purchase.
  • Decide where to splurge. Let’s face it, vacations are supposed to be fun. You’ve worked hard to make good financial choices on your trip, so treat yourself to something special. Decide what you want to splurge on and work that into your travel budget. For example, picking up some cheap coffee and donuts a couple days may be worth it to you so you can splurge on a fancy brunch on Sunday.

 

Travel Planning Can Pay Off

Managing your travel finances during the trip can be easy with a good budget to follow. Following through on your travel planning can add an extra feeling of satisfaction to your journey. If you need help making financial decisions for your trip, contact your local branch. They have the tools and expertise to help you plan and execute a successful travel budget.

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