It’s the time of year, where beach bags are filling up with picnic supplies, sunscreen, beach towels and smiles. The summer travel season is one of the busiest times of year for families. People are excited to get outdoors, and take time off from work to play with their families. It is no wonder hotels fill up quickly, even when they are charging more expensive rates. There are few tips families can follow to avoid sinking further into credit debt during “peak travel season”.
Most often, people do not plan for their annual vacation throughout the year, and forget to allocate a portion of their monthly budget to saving for the upcoming trip. Saving $160 a month will pay for a trip to Disney World for a family of four. All too often people fall into the trap of, last-minute cheap vacation deals. While some cheaper rates may be found last minute, the vacation won’t be paid for unless you have been saving throughout the year to pay for it.
Charging a vacation package to your credit card, adds to the already existing credit debt. Unless your credit line is carrying a zero balance, paying minimum payments to pay off a vacation can take years. For example, if your credit card has a 19.9% interest rate and you charge $2500 from this year’s summer vacation, it will take you ,4 years and an additional $1,169 in interest to pay off your credit card.
A concept that has become popular over the past few years is a stay-at-home-vacation, also known as a staycation. Local communities of all sizes have fun and entertaining activities for the whole family. The average American spends around $4000 on a 7 day family vacation when traveling via airline, renting hotels for lodging and paying for meals. By staying local to enjoy your time off, you will save on food, fuel and lodging costs. The same family can save around $3000 by buying a tent, driving to a local campsite near a lake and preparing picnic meals. Many times, the activities offered by local communities are at reduced rates, or even free. Check your local convention and visitor’s bureau for more information on nearby local events and summer activities for the family.
If your family does decide to travel some distance for the summer vacation there are a few tips to help reduce your costs.
- Drive rather than fly. It makes for a fun bonding experience for the whole family.
- Stay in a hotel outside of the tourist part of your destination. The rates will be cheaper and it is easier to find better deals.
- If possible, find a hotel with a kitchenette or suite. This way you can prepare light meals to reduce your cost of food.
- Limit souvenirs to one per person, or purchase one higher cost souvenir for the whole family to enjoy.