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Tips to Prevent Summer Budget Burn

tips to prevent summer budget burn

Finally! It’s time for some well-earned fun in the sun again. But before you hit your favorite summer vacation spots, apply these budget tips to your plans and make them even more enjoyable.

1. Book in advance – or at the last minute

You can find some of the best deals for airline tickets, hotels or cruises by taking advantage of Early Bird deals. These can range from exclusive discounts to complimentary upgrades. If you can’t get in on the early specials, sometimes waiting until the last week to book can also work in your favor. Some companies will offer “last chance” discount rates in order to sell out their event or voyage. The downside – your choice of room or seat will be limited to whatever is left.

2. Bid for hotels and flights

There are dozens of “name your price” websites, like Priceline and Expedia, that let you bid on the price of your hotel room, airline ticket and rental car. There is definitely an art to making this work – bidding a month in advance, adjusting your travel schedule, and knowing how low to bid – but if you practice and get good at it, you could cut your vacation costs in half!

3. Be flexible with arrival and departure times

Are you naturally an early riser or a night owl? It could save you money on airfare. Most first flights of the day and redeyes at night have the cheapest ticket offerings.

 4. Head to off-peak destinations

Would you believe some of the best places to travel in the summer are the ones with the warmest temperatures? It’s true. Places like Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean often are a great value because their peak seasons tend to be in the winter. It does come at a slight risk – hurricane season affects these areas from July until October. But if you don’t mind the heat and get good weather, you could soak up some big savings. One way to protect your trip investment during hurricane season is by purchasing travel insurance. While it’s an additional cost, it could pay off in the long run if a natural (or personal) disaster causes you to cancel your vacation.

5. Avoid tourist traps

As much as you love taking vacations, people who live near those destinations love the money you spend there. Be extremely cautious about timeshare offers and other types of package deals. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Some of these offers come with financing options with interest rates in the 14 – 16% range. Beware of the fine print before signing anything and if you do decide to sign up, remember there are other personal loan financing options available that could offer a lower interest rate.

6. Eat, drink, and save money

Aside from transportation and lodging, food can be one of your most expensive items while on vacation – and it can get out of control quickly. Curb food costs by selecting outdoor and street vendors or picnicking when possible. Also try to avoid impulsive snacking –pretzels, ice cream cones and sodas can derail your food budget before you’ve had a chance to eat dinner. Speaking of soda, opt for water at a restaurant instead. It’s healthy, refreshing and free!

If you’re staying at an AirBnB or a hotel with adequate kitchen space, you might want to stock the fridge or pantry with food and beverages you can buy in bulk or at cheaper prices from a local supermarket.

7. Cash in on your credit card points

Before planning your vacation, check to see if your credit card points can be cashed in for useful rewards. Be sure to read our Advice Hub tips on how to use these points.

8. Protect yourself from fraud

One budget burn to look out for is lost or stolen credit cards. Consider signing up for fraud monitoring services like LifeLock® that will help protect you from identity theft. You may also want to consider using debit cards made specifically for traveling, like United’s eCash account. You can only access what’s on the card, and if it’s lost or stolen, it’s not tied to your main checking account. In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission reported that fraud was the top consumer complaint for the first time ever, which saw financial losses totaling $1.5 billion.

9. Explore close to home

Destination vacations can be fun, but they aren’t required for a successful summer. Save money on travel and lodging expenses by staying within a one-day driving distance. Consider cheering on a local minor league affiliate instead of paying big league prices at a major league game. Smaller, local zoos, water parks and amusement parks are also less-expensive options over their larger, national counterparts.

10. Don’t forget Fido

You’ve got your reservations booked and your bags packed with everything on budget. But did you remember to plan for your pets? If you can’t take them with you, look into the boarding rates at your vet or a private kennel. Most places charge about $20 per day, but that can add up quickly. A more cost-effective alternative – ask a friend or neighbor to care for your pets while you are away.