Esta página de Internet está disponible sólo en inglés. Sin embargo, tenemos otros materiales de educación financiera en español.

Página principal de educación financiera

4 ways to manage travel costs

How to make the most of your vacation on a budget.

Vacations are more than a nice bonus: They enable you to recharge, relieve stress, expand your horizons — and, afterwards, return to work with improved productivity.

The average U.S. citizen spends 10 percent of their annual income on vacation. But by planning strategically, you can find ways to both experience the benefits of travel and keep your finances in check.woman_busstop_budget_travel

Here are a few tips to help you get the most bang for your buck on your next trip.

1. Determine where you can travel on your budget

Start by determining where you want to go, for how long, and how much it might cost. How much you already have saved or how much you can expect to save in the coming months can impact whether you choose to upgrade your plans or shorten your itinerary.

While a major city may be the first vacation destination to come to mind, consider visiting smaller cities or towns (even if they’re still in a foreign country) to help save money on everything from accommodations to entertainment. And if you want to avoid the cost of airfare altogether, a road trip in your state or region can be a good economical alternative.

Also be aware of opportunities for small tweaks to your itinerary, such as reducing your trip by one day, to help stretch your travel budget while still getting to your original destination.

2. Find ways to book cost-effectively

Airfare comparison sites can help determine when to buy tickets for your flight. What makes the most sense varies by situation: Sometimes planning your vacation early can enable you to book airfare at the lowest costs or help ensure that you get your preferred itinerary. On the other end of the spectrum, you may also be able to get a discounted rate by booking at the last minute when cruise lines or airlines are looking to fill any remaining seats.

Traveling during the off-season can also prove cost-effective. Booking airfare for fall or winter rather than the summer months can regularly save you between 10 and 30 percent in airfare costs.

You may also consider booking with a travel agent if you’re traveling with a large group. If prices go down after your initial price, travel agents may be able to negotiate a refund or vouchers for the remaining amount on your behalf.

3. Consider additional travel costs

Beyond airfare, think about the other costs of travel, such as accommodations: Some tourist destinations get booked up early, so check rates and availability as soon as you’ve decided on your location. Conventions and other special events can have a major impact on the availability of hotel rooms and result in higher prices.

When it comes to transportation, evaluate whether it will make the most sense to rent a car, rely on public transportation, or even walk and bike everywhere. For instance, if you’re visiting a city and will only need a car at the beginning and end of the trip, it may ultimately be cheaper to rely on public transportation for the most part and pay for a cab to and from the airport.

Also, factor in the costs of meals. Will you be dining out for every meal, or will you be able to save money by visiting a grocery store and cooking for yourself every now and then?

4. Save money by opting for a staycation

If you’ve weighed all the costs and a full-fledged vacation isn’t in the cards, consider taking a day or weekend off to enjoy your own city with a “staycation.”

This means treating the time like a true vacation: Stay away from work email, and explore your city like a tourist. Local attraction calendars can be a good place to start for finding museums, theaters, and events. Plus, many of these spots host “free days” for state residents.


 Tip 

Traveling during the off-season can prove cost-effective. Booking airfare for fall or winter rather than the summer months can regularly save you between 10 and 30 percent in airfare costs.
 

These steps can help streamline the process of saving for and planning a vacation. For more on making the most of your savings approach, explore My Savings Plan®.

Empower yourself with financial knowledge

We’re committed to your financial success. Here you’ll find a wide range of helpful information, interactive tools, practical strategies, and more — all designed to help you increase your financial literacy and reach your financial goals.

My Financial Guide