Summer vacation plans for many travelers have already begun. For many, this is the one week (or two) each year where everyone in the family is off from school, work, and team sports, so the desire to splurge is certainly understandable. Although enjoying your well-deserved vacation should be the primary goal, it’s also necessary to keep over-spending in check by having a reasonable budget in mind. Vacations can be expensive—the average American household spent approximately $1,800 per person on summer vacations last year, and that cost continues to rise in 2017. With over 44% of that budget going toward transportation, establishing an overall vacation budget is better done BEFORE the trip, not after the excitement has already begun. Not sure where to begin? Let’s get started!

picture of a women standing with her arms in the air

1) Check with a trusted travel agent. Although there are many resources available online, checking with a travel agent before your trip may prove to be helpful. Often, agents have access to special offers and resources that the rest of travelers do not. Not only could this provide you with a package deal, it could help you to establish the amount you’ll need to budget ahead of time. This is especially true of all-inclusive package trips.

2) Map out a plan. Although mapping out your trip is essential, so is mapping out your transportation budget. Will you travel by plane, boat, or car? Regardless of what trip you plan, having a general idea of the miles you’ll be traveling will help you to establish a transportation budget item. Although getting there can be part of the fun, it also should be a factor when determining your expenses. Don’t forget to weigh your options of a rental vs. driving your own vehicle. This could be beneficial in helping to prevent the extra usage of your personal car, especially if it’s your primary mode of transportation for work.

3) Check out discount memberships. Do you belong to a membership club or association for shopping, insurance, or your field of work? Be sure to check out your benefits. Often, they’ll offer significant discounts on lodging, airfare, restaurants, and auto rentals. It’s certainly worth a phone call.

4) Shop around. Preparing your own food can help you save money while on vacation. Although it will be easier to take grocery and food items with you if you are driving, shopping ahead of time can help you save money. Restaurants, shops, and grocery stores can be pricier when near a popular travel destination. Again, if possible, make a plan to prepare some of your own meals, while dining out on specific days while away. If you’re booking your own hotel accommodations, try to find those that offer breakfast and/or snacks as a guest perk. This helps to eliminate one meal from your daily dining budget.

5) Souvenirs and attractions. Hey, it’s vacation, so definitely have some fun! Just pick and choose those souvenirs you must have from those that will be in tomorrow’s donation bin. Look for quality items that you’ll truly treasure for years to come as a vacation memory.

Wherever your travels take you this summer, being mindful of spending doesn’t have to dampen the fun. Plan ahead, budget, and splurge occasionally as long as it’s within your budget. Most importantly, make memories and have some fun!

Sources: Americans Are Spending Less Time, More Money on Vacation;
http://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2016-07-04/americans-are-spending-less-time-more-money-on-vacation