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Tips for Making Summer Vacations More Affordable
Friday, May 3, 2013 6:30 AM

According to a survey by the Texas Credit Union League, 64.4 percent of Texans plan to take a summer vacation. More than 15 percent of respondents indicated they will take a longer vacation than in 2012, and 11.4 percent plan to travel a greater distance.

While vacations are a great way to re-energize, Texas Credit Union Foundation Executive Director Courtney Moran cautions that they can drain your savings account, if you haven’t properly planned for the expense.

“People take vacations to get away from every day stresses,” says Moran. “However, without planning ahead or creating a budget, your vacation may generate debt that can take months or years to pay off, creating more headaches.”
To ensure your dream trip does not become a financial nightmare, Moran suggests taking the following five steps:

  • Bring your own food and snacks. Whether traveling for a week-long or day trip, bring your own food and snacks. Food and beverage prices are typically higher in “touristy” areas, so save your money by bringing bottled water and sodas, and packing snacks and lunches.
  • Have a budget when on-site. Many people budget for the travel and hotel costs of their vacations, but forget to consider meals and activities when on-site. Think carefully about what activities your family might want to experience – water skiing or zip lining – and what meals you’ll want to enjoy out, and budget appropriately before you leave.
  • Look for local excitement. Summer is the season for local festivals and activities throughout Texas, and most are free. See what’s happening in your local area by visiting http://www.traveltex.com/. A plethora of kid-friendly and kid-free events await.
  • Leave unnecessary financial instruments at home. Before going on vacation, look through your wallet and purse and remove any financial instruments that you won’t need, and leave them at home. Why bring your checkbook or other less-used payment methods on vacation and risk them being lost or stolen? Only bring the forms of payment that you plan on using, plus a back-up.
  • Make use of gas perk programs. Traveling by car is pretty much inevitable, whether enjoying an out-of-town getaway or stay-cation this summer. Many retailers, such as grocery stores and gas stations, offer gas discounts that can amount to significant savings, especially if you plan ahead and amass the rewards over the months leading up to your vacation.