Summer is fast approaching. If you got kids who are still in school, you know what this means: more time to spend with them! And for some of us, summer is the best time to go on a vacation somewhere as kids won’t be sacrificing school and nothing much to do at home. Plus, we’d love to treat them after a year of toiling at the campus, don’t we?
Unfortunately, summer vacation is also one of the reasons why some Americans rack up debts. In a report from Experian last year, more than two-thirds of 1,000 surveyed vacationers overspent on vacation. And their favored choice of payment while on vacation? Credit cards. Not only do they carry a balance, but also post-vacation debt hangover which spoils the fun when you return to reality. That’s why here at OK Nga Rod, we’d like to remind everyone that no matter what season, wherever you’re going, always take some personal finance lessons with you.
Admit it, you love to travel. Something in us craves for it every once in a while. Perhaps it’s the stress at work or the boredom of routine but what’s for sure is that we all love to see new places, try new food, observe the ways of other people and of course, relax and forget about work in a place far from the usual corners where spend most of our days. Travelling helps us recharge our batteries…in a fun way.
If traveling costs nothing, I bet we’d all be going somewhere week after week after week. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In fact, almost all of us would feel the impact of traveling somewhere to our pockets. Some would end up on a forced diet or skipped meals to lessen the food expenses after an unexpectedly expensive vacation.
Overspending or having to borrow just to cope with the impact of expenses could take the fun out of traveling. To avoid overspending, you have to plan out your travel and add a bit of diligence to follow your plan. Here are some tips:
Use “fare compare” websites or mobile apps
Unlike before when you have to do it on your own by calling air ticket outlets individually, now you can just Google and find a website that does it for you at real-time speed, meaning as ticket prices fluctuate, these website update prices, too. You could even download a mobile app that sends you alerts every time there is an airline ticket sale. This saves you a lot of time and phone bills when booking your destination.
Of course, there’s a hidden trap in these time-and-money-saving technologies. Because they advertise airfare sales, it would really be enticing for travelers to keep on booking tickets even though it’s not in their budget. They could be cheaper, but if you’re booking tickets just because they are on sale even if you don’t have the intention to actually go on a vacation, then it’s still a waste of money.
The ticket could be free, but the actual travel expenses aren’t. They’re sold separately.
Research the cost of living in place you’re heading for
This will give you an idea of the budget range you are going to need when staying longer in that place. If it’s another country, check out the foreign exchange rate beforehand so that you can estimate how far your dollar could go if you stayed at this hotel, or shop for local items or dine at a popular restaurant.
Never underestimate the power of preparation. A little diligence on researching about possible expenses, entrance tickets, hotels and transport expenses could help you stretch your dollars and save money.
Decide between using a travel agency and going DIY
Travel agencies may able to get you packaged deals at lower costs because they are able to negotiate for more travelers. The economies of scale are working for them. However, it might not give you the flexibility as tours are already pre-planned. You may not much choice in the places you are going to see or where you will be staying. Whereas in DIY (do-it-yourself), you can go wherever you want but you may pay higher prices especially on tours and accommodations. You “may” pay higher, but again, with a little more diligence, you might be able to find cheaper yet good-enough deals online. Nowadays, travelers do not just look at traditional hotel reservations; there are other choices such as private places rented out via Airbnb. Check them out, too!
Plan your routes and modes of transport
There are cheaper and more expensive ways of going from one place to another. Of course you’d want to check out as many places as you possibly can but it could be more expensive if you just throw yourself at them and shell out cash without any hesitation. As much as we’d like to think that people will help you, you can’t totally avoid those who will take advantage of you by ripping you off on transportation costs on packaged tours.
Know your credit card’s foreign exchange fees
Be sure to check your cards forex rates and charges and try doing your own computation if you spend a certain amount. Depending on your credit card and how traveler friendly it is, it could be more cost-efficient if you use it than exchanging your bank notes in a local currency dealer. If you’re going to use your card, have a separate travel account then use that money to pay for your credit card when you get back from vacation.
However, if you know you are just going to overspend if you use your credit card, then it might be a far better idea to use the cash you’ve saved in your travel fund.
Travel in packs
If a travel destination looks expensive, you may be able to cut the expenses by travelling with your buddies, or finding folks who’ll share expenses with you. Ask around in your office or even your Facebook friends. You won’t just save money; you’ll also make friends during your journey!
Save and budget
Upon deciding on a travel destination, start saving for it right away. Make a decision to avoid getting into debt in exchange for a short vacation time. Contrary to what others would say, it’s just not worth it.
Last but never the least: always have a budget. If you already have stashed enough for your travel expenses, then great, that would be your budget. If you think you’ll come up short, then at least you’ll only be borrowing a smaller amount. If you think it’s too much, then transfer a part of it to your retirement account!
When travelling to a new place, you will always encounter something nice to buy; you’ll have people at home waiting for pasalubong. You’ll find justifications to extend your expenses because the vacation is really worth it. A budget will defend your savings account from such pillage.
The young ones would say. “Your time on earth is a like a lit cigarette — it’s getting shorter by the day. Travel is more important. Don’t worry about the money.” Don’t fall for these beautiful words. Travel is good. Money is important. You can find ways to have both.
If however, the tips we’ve shared came a little too late for you and you’ve already wound up with huge debt after a vacation, or you’ve been carrying that balance for years, don’t worry, there are steps you can take to pay it off. Call Financial Rescue today and we might just be able to help you solve your debt problem.