Two people planning a trip

What does summer mean to you? Does it mean time by the pool or maybe spending time with your family at a cookout? For a lot of people, summer is the time to take a vacation. Big or small, it’s the perfect time to focus on rest and relation. But how do you plan the vacation of a lifetime without breaking the bank?

According to a recent survey conducted by LearnVest, 74% of people say they have gone into debt to pay for their vacation. These vacations run about $1,088 on average. It’s easy to get carried away with spending money while you’re on vacation. With all of the temptations at every corner, here are a few ways you can make sure you don’t overspend while on your summer vacation.

Create a Budget

First and foremost, you need to create a budget for your summer trip. If you don’t want to overspend, you need to have a baseline for what you can afford. You don’t want to start booking a vacation to find it’s out of your price range.

Determine how much you want to spend on travel, transportation, accommodations, meals, souvenirs, activities and more. Wherever you think you’ll spend money, create a section of your budget for it. The more specific you are, the easier it will be to not overspend. Be sure to also include things like any boarding fees for your pet, tipping expenses and any resort fees.

Research Your Vacation Spot

Once you have a budget in place, it’s important to research your vacation spot. Investigate everything from the best places to stay to what activities are available in the area. Read reviews to see what other tourists are saying about the location. This will give you a great starting point and inform you about what there is to do in the region.

Use this opportunity to also research the best deals. For accommodations, you can try sites like Airbnb or VRBO®. These sites allow you to rent out your own space or share a space with the property owner. You could also reach out to friends and family.

“If you have friends or family who live in the place you’re looking to travel to, reach out to them ahead of time and see if they wouldn’t mind hosting you for a few nights. Chances are they’ll be more than happy to see you, and you’ll save big on accommodations,” says Calvin Iverson, Senior PR Manager at TravelPirates.

For flights, you can try sites such as Cheapflights, Expedia, Kayak or Priceline. Many of these sites will provide you the ability to set up a price alert to monitor price fluctuation for your desired location and dates.

When searching for activities and tours, visit Viator or TripAdvisor. Both sites may give reviews and different options for the activities and tours you may want to explore. If you find an activity you’re interested in, you can also call the company directly to see if they offer any discounts for booking with their company. Some excursions may also be cheaper on certain days. So, it never hurts to ask before you book your activity.

Look for Deals and Discounts

Once you have an idea of the restaurants and activities you would like to try, search for specials and deals. Groupon can be a great resource for helping you find deals in the area. If you’re a member of AAA, you can also ask if the restaurants, tours or resorts you selected offer discounts for members.

Your credit card may also be a good resource to locate deals or receive various rewards for your loyalty. Iverson states, “Credit cards can save you time and money when traveling. Some, such as Chase Sapphire, don’t charge foreign transaction fees and even offer perks such as primary rental car insurance and double or triple points for travel-related purchases.”

Keep in mind there are countless other tools you can use to help you save money before you even leave for your vacation.  

Make an Itinerary

Now that you have your accommodations and activities selected, you may want to make an itinerary for your summer trip. Developing a vacation literary will not only help you stay within your budget, it’ll help you maximize your time. It forces you to prioritize what you’d like to do and where your money will be allocated.

Plan All of Your Meals

Creating an itinerary will also help you plan your meals. Dining out can add up and bust your budget. Your accommodations can help you determine if you may be able to stay in and cook. If you don’t have access to a kitchen on vacation, you could stop at a local grocery and pick up granola bars or nutritious snacks that may be a substitute for costly restaurant meals.

When you stop by a grocery store or local restaurant, ask if they have a reward or discount program. By simply asking, you could save some money!

Avoid Common Spending Traps

Even if you properly budgeted and prepared for vacation, there are plenty of temptations that could cause you to overspend. Here are just a few you should be aware of before you venture out on your trip:

  • Not properly planning and bringing all items you need while on your vacation. Forgetting something important at home may cause you to have to purchase an item you already have. Make a list of all items you’ll need so you can ensure you have properly prepared.
  • Budget for pre-vacation shopping. It’s easy to get carried away when shopping for your trip. Only purchase items you absolutely need.
  • Wait to purchase souvenirs. Most vacation locations will have multiple shops with the same items. Compare prices. It’s always okay to go back. You don’t want to bust your souvenir budget on the first day.
  • Try to be flexible on destinations and dates. Scott Wainner, CEO and Founder of Fareness states, “Try to be open-minded when booking travel and don’t get attached to one specific travel date and location. Look around at prices, and then determine when and where you might want to travel to.”

The Bottom Line

The best thing you can do to not overspend while on vacation is properly prepare in advance and to conduct the appropriate research for your vacation spot. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to enjoy your summer vacation.

What are some tips you have for traveling on a budget? Let us know in the comments below!

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