Picture this. You spend a wonderful week away relaxing and forgetting the worries at home. The kids have fun playing in the sand or at the amusement park. You eat amazing food, sleep in and come back completely refreshed. One month later you open the mailbox to credit card bills which don’t take you back to the enjoyment of your vacation, but rather the stress of now paying for it!
How can you avoid this? The best thing to do is to still stick with cash. Here is how you can do just that!
Use your debit card*.You can pay for airline tickets, hotel rooms and even a rental car by using your bank card. Make sure it is a Visa or other type of card or it may not be accepted. I’ve reserved many rooms using mine and have never yet had any issue.
You can use it just like a debit card just about anywhere. There is no reason to pull out a credit card or open a new one simply for your vacation.
Traveler’s Checks or Cash. When you do travel, stick with cash or travelers checks if possible. You should be use to using cash and you know that when you have to track your spending, you tend to spend less than you normally would. The same is true on vacation. You can take along your envelopes – just modify them for your trip:
Hotel (if you using cash rather than debit)
If you do use cash, make sure you do not take all of it with you on every outing. Request a safe in your hotel room and keep it locked up (many hotels now have this included as a standard feature).
Save Dining Out. If your hotel does not include a free breakfast, you can pick up items at a local store and keep them in your room. Some hotels offer a mini fridge for free, so you might ask if you can have one in your room to keep items chilled.
Pack a backpack with snacks and bottled water for during the day. Then, when the kids are hungry, you can pull out fruit or a granola bar. Water is not only a healthier option, but you can refill your bottle for free pretty much anywhere you go!
Use Fuel Rewards. If you have a fuel rewards card, try to fuel up at those locations to earn points and other freebies. If you don’t have one, you might check out the app Gas Buddy to find the lowest prices close to where you live.
Purchase Tickets Ahead of Time. Sometimes, you can find discounts to parks and venues when you purchase your tickets online. You might even follow GroupOn for the city you will be traveling to so that you can get a deal. Make sure you pay for these with your debit card!! Check out our great Five Tips to Help you Get the Lowest Price on Airfare.
Plan a Staycation. Perhaps your budget is too tight to allow for a vacation this year. Why not do a staycation instead? You can set up your own water park in your backyard. You can turn on the game and make your favorite ballpark foods and have a game day at home. You can even visit local tourist destinations in your own city. Nothing says you have to travel more than 10 minute from your home to have a great time with your family. Check out our list of fun staycation ideas.
No matter what you plan to do this summer, just make sure you budget everything on your trip. By doing that, you can help ensure you don’t overspend and you don’t end up back at Step 1 — Learning how to get out of Debt — when you get home. There is nothing worse than walking into the door, tired from vacation to see a hefty credit card bill lying in wait.
*Make sure you card is a bank card with credit/debit features otherwise, it may not be accepted. Contact your banking institution if you are not sure.