Start planning now!
Portions from www.clearpointcreditcounselingsolutions.org
After the snow and record low temperatures we experienced this winter, you may be dreaming of a beach vacation. Beginning your vacation planning early will not only give you something to look forward to, but also makes good financial sense. According to Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions, 57% of Americans feel they are not able to spend as much on their vacations this summer as compared to last. By creating a budget for your vacation now and saving a little each month, you'll avoid the temptation to put the whole thing on your credit card and feel trapped by the debt long after the fun of the vacation is over. Consider opening a savings account specifically for your vacation fund and asking friends and family to contribute in lieu of birthday or anniversary gifts. You can monitor your progress through sites such as mint.com.
Booking in advance gives you the option of deciding where you really want to stay vs. settling for whatever's available. Last minute deals aren't always cheaper and you often don't have the option of taking advantage of all the amenities a resort has to offer if you don't book activities ahead of time. You don't want your children to be disappointed that they weren't able to participate in horseback riding or swim parties because you didn't have the reservations made in time. Also, many times these activities are included in pre-packaged deals that aren't necessarily available if not booked ahead of time. Working with a travel agent may snag you some of the better package deals (and save you the frustration of planning the vacation yourself).
In order to save some extra money, consider renting a condo or house vs. staying in a hotel. According to Budget Travel you can rent an apartment in Europe for $100 a night, while a hotel could cost you $300 per night. For U.S. rentals, try Vrbo.com: You can find housing for less than a hotel would cost, and find great deals in some of the hottest areas. The added bonus: The homes you'll stay in have kitchens. You'll save lots of money each day by preparing some of your own meals and having easy access to snacks and beverages without having to purchase from convenience stores which can be more expensive.
If you're considering going abroad, check out the currency exchange rate and choose destinations where the US dollar is strong. You'll have more purchasing power and may be able to afford a nicer hotel than you think - check out EuroCheapo.com if you're looking to find a great deal in Europe. Be sure to order foreign currency ahead of time or consider a Cash Passport, which is a pre-paid debit card you can use easily like a credit card without concerns about access to your bank accounts should you lose it. Both foreign currency and cash passports may be ordered through our website.
Happy vacation planning as we all look forward to warmer weather!