Summer. Visions of trips to the pool, backyard barbeques, and warm days come to my mind when I think of summer. For many folks out there, myself included, summer is often a time to travel. For those with kids, summer is the ideal time to take a vacation while the kids are out of school.
How to Afford a Summer Vacation
Hopefully if you are planning a summer vacation or trip you have already considered this important factor. I know there are many out there that will argue that you should not even consider a trip unless you’ve crushed all of your debt, have a solid emergency fund, and are fully funding your retirement accounts. My personal belief is that we all need a little getaway once in a while, especially for those who may be on the long journey to student loan or mortgage debt freedom or financial independence (I do hesitate to recommend vacations to those in credit card debt, however- that’s just a good way to go deeper in the hole).
I won’t argue here whether or not certain folks SHOULD take vacations or not. Let’s say you’re in a decent place financially, you’re just late in planning. After all, I’m told that summer is just around the corner. 🙂 However, even if you are doing some late planning there are ways to be able to afford a vacation without breaking the bank.
- Look for deals. Sometimes the best deals can be had at the last minute. Websites such as http://www.lastminutetravel.com and http://www.golastminute.com are great resources if you are late in planning your summer travels, but there are plenty of other websites out there and other ways out there to score a deal on your summer travel plans. And make sure you shop around, especially if you’re NOT shopping last minute and you have a few weeks or months until your anticipated trip.
- Up your side hustle game. If you really want to take a summer trip but the vacation fund is low, it may be worth picking up a few more extra gigs than you would ordinarily take on, in order to bring in extra cash. There’s also the option of making some extra cash online by taking surveys (my current fav online survey company is Harris Poll Online), and/or using Ebates or Swagbucks shopping portals when you shop online.
- Up your eBay/Craigslist game. Am I the only one who could probably come up with several items to sell if I wandered around the house long enough? Somehow I doubt it. Most of us could probably identify several items around the house that we no longer use that could be sold for cash.
- Pick up extra hours at work if possible. If you are employed this may be an easy way to earn some extra cash, particularly if you know that your employer is looking for people to pick up extra projects, etc.
- Maximize your credit card rewards. Again, hopefully if you have a summer trip planned you have already done some financial planning for it, but it still may not be too late to begin working harder on maximizing your benefit from credit card rewards here. Travel rewards cards such as the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World MasterCard® (this is my personal fav travel rewards credit card- see my full review here) are ideal for this purpose, as money that you spend on your routine expenses today can earn you rewards that may be used to fund travels later on. Be careful though- obviously if you plan to just put an entire vacation on credit card and not pay it off that is not a good idea! This one can be a biggie- there are many folks out there who have earned some killer travel rewards and sometimes funded entire trips this way.
- Consider alternative lodging. Rather than staying in hotels on vacation, consider renting a family’s home, condo, etc. using a service such as http://www.airbnb.com. This may be cheaper than a hotel AND if you rent a home there is the added benefit of being able to cook some of your own meals- which is a guaranteed way to save money on pricey restaurant meals! When the hubs and I travel abroad, we often seek out hostels to stay in. They aren’t always the fanciest places ever, but they usually offer a communal cooking area which allows you to save money AND meet new people while cooking!
- Save up for it. This is probably the most important strategy! Depending on when you are considering traveling, there may be a few months before your anticipated trip. Saving a portion of every paycheck (or every bit of money that comes into your hot little hand) in a special location such as a separate savings account will help curb the urge to blow your vacation money on shoes or gadgets. It will also help ensure that you already have your vacation money in hand- so when the credit card bills show up afterward you are not left wondering how you are going to pay them. 🙂
Do you have any summer travel plans? If so, which strategies are you using to afford it?