Now is the time to start planning your summer holiday. Don't let your next vacation break your budget.
One of the basic tenets of living the lifestyle you want is being able to manage your resources so that you are able to afford your costs. Among the costs that you are likely to run into is the summer holiday.
Taking a summer vacation is a fine tradition that provides you with the chance to enjoy some time off, see something new, and make memories with your family. Since I love to travel, the summer holiday is essential to me.
But you don't want to break the bank when you go on vacation. Here are a few ideas for spreading the cost of your summer holiday:
Look for Sales
One of the best ways to save money is to look for sales going on right now. Many travel operators offer January and February deals. You book now, and pay now, and you can save overall. You can save anywhere between $300 and $1,000 on a vacation package when you book ahead of time.
This goes along with the advice to get the best airfares by purchasing your tickets early. I also like to book using an aggregator, like Orbitz, that has a price guarantee. If the price of my airplane ticket falls before my trip, Orbitz will refund the difference.
I also like using Southwest because the company doesn't charge you extra for changing your tickets. There isn't an automatic price guarantee as you see with Orbitz, but you can cancel and re-book. I did this once, and my account was credited with the lower amount. It worked out really well.
There are sales on everything from hotels to cruises to rental cars. Look for these sales now, and book for a cheaper summer holiday.
Use Credit Card Introductory Rates
Paying for the vacation can be a bit tricky right now. The ideal is to save up over time. I keep a little vacation and lifestyle fund so that I have enough money to book most airline tickets and other costs associated with a vacation.
But it's also possible to leverage the deals you can get with a credit card to pay for your vacation now. Consider: There are credit cards that offer 0% APR rates for a short period of time. You can find cards that will charge you no interest for between six and 18 months. Use one of these cards, and you have time to pay off your summer holiday. Just make sure you have a plan to pay off the card before the introductory rate disappears and you are stuck with a higher rate.
Make Use of Rewards Programs
I love using credit cards to pay for travel. This is because it's a good way to rack up the rewards points quickly. Travel is expensive, so your summer holiday can help you earn the rewards points faster.
Many rewards programs offer extra points for categories related to travel. Additionally, there are programs associated with specific airlines and hotels that can provide you with extra points. As of right now, I have enough miles with Southwest to pay for a plane ticket, and I've got 10 free nights at Marriott. My son and I are going to San Diego for spring break, and we will stay free, and one of our tickets will be paid for. Plus, I'll put everything on a rewards credit card, which should go a long way toward replenishing what we've spent.
However, as always, it's important to make sure you pay off your credit card balance before you have to pay interest. If you use a credit card with an intro rate so that you have a little time to spread your payments out. But this method takes discipline. You have to make sure that you pay it off before you start paying interest.
Of course, the other option is to save up for your vacation. Figure out how much your summer holiday will cost, and then divide that by the number of months you have until you need to pay for the vacation. You can set aside money each month to make it happen, and then you don't have to worry about the credit cards. But you will miss out on some cool rewards, and waiting to pay until just before summer might mean you pay a higher price for your vacation package.
What do you think? How do you make your summer vacation costs more manageable?