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Planning for Your Next Vacation

Once the holidays are over and we are back to the everyday grind of work and school, it is no wonder that many of us start to dream about warm weather, vacations and time to actually relax.  Time away has been shown to reduce stress, improve mental health and to improve relationships.  Also, planning a vacation has been shown to help keep you motivated in achieving other goals.  If you’ve decided that a getaway is in the plans for you, here’s some financial tips for making that happen.

Look for Cheaper Flights
Flights and hotels are generally the largest travel expenses, so finding and buying cheaper tickets is one of the best ways to cut down on vacation costs.  Booking earlier usually means lower prices, but it could also mean that there will be flight delays or changes beforehand.  Being flexible is the key when booking your flights.  When searching for flights, try searching for flexible dates.  You’ll often find that leaving midweek will save money.  Also, consider all the fees that may add up.  Some airlines don’t charge for the first checked bag, but others do.  Beware of these add-on fees when the fares are at advertised at rock-bottom prices.

Save on Lodging
Accommodations can carry a hefty price tag and can run up the total on your vacation quickly.  One of the best ways to cut costs on hotels is by booking directly with the hotel instead of using third parties.  If you see a lower price elsewhere, you may find that the hotel will match the price.  Consider booking smaller venues such as a bed and breakfast during the week for lower rates or a bigger hotel that caters to business travelers on the weekends when those workers may be checking out.  Be aware of any big conventions or events near your travel dates and locations as those can push up accommodation costs.

Consider Your Meals
One of the best parts of traveling is often finding new cuisine and dining experiences.  To save a bit of cash, consider staying at hotels that offer free breakfast.  Guidebooks can also lead you to great restaurant choices in several different price ranges.  Try to build some time in your trip to visit a local grocery store to stock up on snacks or even full meals if your accommodations have a kitchen.  If you decide to splurge on a meal, make it a midday meal when prices tend to be lower and seating more available.

Start Saving
Budgeting is the backbone to any savings plan.  Create a vacation budget early in your planning, making sure to include things such as travel fees, souvenirs, and unexpected expenses.  Consider other areas in your budget that you could cut back on to put funds towards your travel dreams.  Cutting a few dollars here and there in your budget can add up quickly.  A dedicated savings account can also be helpful.  Putting money into separate savings accounts helps keep that money apart from your regular spending and as a result, you’re less likely to use that money for everyday expenses.

Planning your perfect vacation can take a bit of time, but doing so carefully can help you save money and stress in the long run.  Your dream vacation really is possible, so happy planning!

Planning for Your Next Vacation