Every year, 45% of Americans will take a vacation…and this is just in the summer months. The US Travel Association gives a wider view of the travel data revealing that direct spending on leisure travel totaled $650.8 billion in 2015 by both domestic and international travelers. That is a lot of people spending a lot of money on visiting a lot of cities.
One of the first steps in planning a vacation should be a candid review and discussion about budget. This will help keep you and your family (or friends) on track and focused on the true costs involved for your journey.
For most people, preparing within a budget doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. But there are great benefits to having a travel budget. Here are just a few to help enlighten you on the advantages of planning your expenses:
Vacation Budget Benefits
1. No Regrets. You’ll avoid a post-trip headache and heartache if you plan on a budget. By understanding the costs of your travel adventure before you fly away, you’ll enjoy the freedom of knowing you can afford everything you are experiencing on your vacation.
If you’re not sure how to add up all the costs you’ll be incurring, the Visa Corporation along with their financial partners can help you predict your travel costs. Just use their Travel Budget Tool by answering a few questions. And the best news is that it’s free! Use this or a similar budget-friendly form to identify the savings you’ll need to achieve.
2. Good Choices. Having a vacation budget allows you to focus on making the right choices that fit your price range. Using a financial plan for traveling helps clarify which amenities you can afford and which might require a bit more saving before your departure. By budgeting for these “extras” in advance, you’ll be more likely to avoid the allure of overspending when you arrive at your destination.
3. Sensible Search. Be kind to your mind and look for vacations only within your budget. On Hotels.com and other travel sites, you can filter your search for accommodations and travel packages by cost. Stick to your plan and don’t become tempted to put in a price range higher that you can pay for…it may be too tempting to refuse!
4. Save Time. Without a budget, imagine the amount of effort it would take to sort through the literally thousands of different choices for your vacation room. When you utilize hotel websites, you can select the desired cost range of your flight, car rental, rate of your room on a cruise, resort accommodations and more. This search option provides a useful tool and an advantage in understanding the costs you will be incurring.
5. Reality Check. Everyone fantasizes of an amazing, no-holds-barred vacation. But choosing an escape from daily life you can't afford will likely add more stress. After all, what's the point of taking time to relax if you'll be paying for it for several months to come?
Be realistic about how much your vacation funds can cover. Communicate with your family and fellow travelers on their expectations. You may find out your luxury hotel with free slippers is in direct opposition to someone else’s desire to camp out in the wilderness to save money. If a luxury hotel is a non-negotiable, look for additional savings by using Hotels.com coupons and promo codes.
6. Fine Print. The smallest detail can bust your budget, so "buyer beware!" Since there is usually a finite amount of cash for vacation travel, you will want to know the refund policies for your airline, hotel, etc. For added peace of mind, choose websites like Hotels.com that state they have “no cancellation fee to change or cancel almost any hotel reservation.” If the merchants you select do not offer a refund policy, consider travel insurance.
7. Reward Yourself. There are a multitude no-cost membership programs that offer added ways to stretch your budget and enjoy significant savings on rooms, flights and more. For example, Hotels.com members who collect 10 nights will get 1 night free. And this program includes over 254,000 eligible hotels around the world to choose from.
Keep it Fun
Going on vacation is supposed to be fun, but budgeting for traveling may sound tedious, difficult and a bit boring. Remember that budgeting is better than running out of money halfway through your travel adventure. Plan ahead and determine how much you can afford to stash away each month for your upcoming trip. Just allow yourself a little room for a spontaneous splurge.
Budget now and you’ll be thankful later!