The weather is heating up, which for many means the start of vacation season.
A recent WSFS survey found that 44% of Greater Philadelphia and Delaware region respondents are not confident they can keep pace with inflation’s impact on goods and services, which could affect many consumers’ ability to book time for rest and relaxation because they must prioritize the necessities.
Thirty-six percent of regional respondents cited saving for a large purchase like a vacation as a goal, and there are ways to plan a vacation without stretching your wallet too thin. Here are tips to help book a vacation that won’t break the bank.
Hunt for Deals
First and foremost, it is important to set a budget and stick to it. With costs for everything from food to flights to gasoline rising, maintaining a strict budget in all aspects of your life is vital.
Once you have your vacation budget set it is time to start booking … not so fast.
Before booking anything for your vacation, start by putting in some time to research the best deals. Whether it’s for your hotel, flights, the scenic tour you’re hoping to take, or even the places you will dine at while away, there are an abundance of discount travel sites that can help identify good deals.
While it is never a bad idea to hunt for the best deal, it is also important to do so in a safe way to avoid travel scams. Fraudsters have been known to spoof legitimate vacation rentals as well as utilize fake websites and ads made to look like real ones as part of phishing schemes. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Take a close look at the URL to any website you book through, look at the company’s reviews, and check other elements of the website for spelling and grammatical errors to help identify the site’s legitimacy before providing any personal information.
Credit cards can be great for booking travel, as many offer rewards that can be cashed in on your trip or for future getaways, but it is important to ensure you’re paying off your balance each month and to be financially prepared to pay off what you add to your balance while on your trip, to avoid accruing interest and carrying a balance. With interest rates rising, it is important to hone in on your credit use to avoid plunging yourself down a financial rabbit hole.
In addition to credit card rewards, such as cash back and airline miles, many hotels and other travel-focused companies offer loyalty points.
If you’ve found yourself accumulating credit card rewards or other loyalty points, now is a great time to cash those in to help make your dream vacation happen while also keeping the cost of the trip down.
Look for Alternatives
In addition to looking for deals and cashing in rewards, evaluating alternatives can be a good way to vacation on a budget.
If you’re staying somewhere with a fridge or full kitchen, consider scheduling a grocery pickup at a store near your destination to save money and limit the items you need to purchase while out and about.
Unfortunately, both the price of gasoline and airline travel have skyrocketed in recent months, which can make just getting to your destination pricy without factoring in meals and excursions. Consider looking into trains and public transit where possible to provide a more cost-effective way to reach your destination.
Vacationing during less heavily traveled months can also unlock savings, as hotels, rentals and airfare are likely to be cheaper during these lower demand seasons.
If you find your budget is still too tight, this may be the year to take a staycation — remember, it is important to cover your necessities before luxuries like travel. Consider smaller day trips to your local parks, historical sites, visit family, or find a local organization to volunteer with for ways to relax and bond with loved ones while also giving back.
Vernita Dorsey is Senior Vice President, Director of Community Strategy at WSFS Bank. She has more than 38 years of experience as a community banker and has actively served her community throughout her career.