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How to Plan Ahead for a Great Vacation That Doesn't Break the Bank

How to Plan Ahead for a Great Vacation That Doesn't Break the Bank

By Miranda Marquit • April 01, 2015

Many of us think we need a lot of money to go on vacation. We envision expensive travel arrangements and worry about how we will pay for everything.

It does not have to be like that. You may be able to enjoy a great vacation without breaking the bank, as long as you plan ahead.

Estimate Costs Ahead of Time

The first step is to estimate your costs ahead of time by doing a little research. Try to estimate your total trip expenses in advance.

In some cases, you may find that it is cheaper to book a tour, says Greg Geronemus, the co-CEO of smarTours.

"Tour operators have significant purchasing power and are able to pass these savings along to travelers," he says.

When you choose a tour with everything priced in (including airfare and hotels), it is much easier to estimate costs. However, before you decide on a tour, compare the cost of the trip a la carte, since you might find better deals that way.

Once you know how much a vacation is likely to cost, start saving. For example, if you’re planning to take a vacation in one year that will cost $2,500, you will need to save $208.33 each month to make it happen.

Breaking down the trip price into smaller amounts of money to save each month may make it seem more manageable.

Plan Off-Peak Travel

To save on travel expenses, plan to travel off-peak.

"It's amazing what a difference it can make to go a few weeks after peak season," says Geronemus. "You can essentially get the same weather, but spend a lot less while dealing with fewer tourists at the main attractions."

As Geronemus points out, you may save on airfare, hotel rooms, and car rentals by traveling off-peak. The exact dates for peak season often vary by location - summer is the peak season for travel to Europe, but winter is the peak season for travel to Hawaii, for instance.

Taking advantage of off-peak times also means traveling mid-week as opposed to over the weekend, and looking for special deals during times when fewer people are interested in traveling.

Look for Extra Discounts

  • Search for discounts on attractions at or near your travel destination.
  • Try buying discounted gift cards to restaraunt chains in the area. This will help you save money on eating out.
  • In some cases, you can save money if you book a hotel when booking a flight and rental car.
  • Look for passes that give you access to multiple attractions for one low price.
  • Consider signing up for daily deals in your destination city.
  • Check with your credit card issuer to see if it offers perks such as free museum or art gallery admissions.
  • Some credit cards may also come with other perks such as rental car insurance, discounted amusement park tickets, and special rates on hotel rooms.

Use Rewards

Finally, you may be able to use rewards to reduce your costs. Turn in airline miles and points for flight deals and free stays in hotels.

When you use certain rewards credit cards, you can gain points each time you swipe. Often, these points will add up, allowing you to potentially save some money when you plan your next vacation. Just be sure to pay off the card balance each month.


Interview with Greg Geronemus of smarTours

The information in this article is provided for general education and informational purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose. It is not intended to be and does not constitute financial, legal or any other advice specific to you the user or anyone else. The companies and individuals (other than OneMain Financial’s sponsored partners) referred to in this message are not sponsors of, do not endorse, and are not otherwise affiliated with OneMain Financial.