Many people take advantage of the breaks in school to take family trips. To make those trips, including short weekend excursions, more enjoyable and avoid credit card statement shock later, consider these tips:

Plan ahead

The Bean sculpture in Chicago

Decide ahead of time what you will spend on your trip and put a portion of that cost into savings each month. When the time comes for your trip, you’ll have a nice little vacation nest egg and won’t need to use your credit card. Get the whole family involved in the planning and saving.

Make a budget before you leave of what you will spend each day for food, lodging and entertainment. Then stick to it. If you have to overspend on one item, decide as a family where you will cut back.

Save on lodging and meals

If you will be at one location for many days, consider renting a house or apartment. According to Dave Ramsey, the daily cost will be less. Plus, you will have access to kitchen and laundry facilities at no extra cost. This will save you in meal costs and you won’t need to pack as many clothes.

If you need to stay in a motel, consider one that offers a full breakfast. While the daily rate is higher, you will save on food expenses because you won’t need to purchase breakfast. If you have teen-agers (or adults) who are big eaters, this can be a big money saver.

Spend less for meals/snacks (besides eating breakfast at the motel):

  • The most expensive items on the restaurant menu, in relation to the cost if you purchased it at the grocery store, are the drinks. If everyone orders water, a family of four could save $10 or more each meal, depending on the drinks you usually order. Get your kids involved in this and offer to spend the money saved on extra entertainment of their choice.
  • Generally, the most expensive meal at a restaurant is the evening meal. To avoid this, make sure your hotel offers in-room refrigerators. After checking in, your first stop is the grocery store. Purchase sandwich fixings, fruit, vegetables and snacks. Eat a big breakfast in the mid- to late morning. Mid-afternoon, eat a late lunch. Some restaurants offer special deals around 5 p.m. For those who get hungry in the evening, the food’s in the fridge!
  • Buying snacks at the grocery store also avoids those expensive, late night trips to the vending machines. Just one or two days of following this tip could save you $50 or more for a family of four.

Use cash for domestic travel

Use cash to avoid overspending. Whether we want to admit it or not, we have an emotional attachment to our cash and it’s not as easy to spend it as it is to spend using plastic.

However, if you are traveling internationally, take advice from Theresa Cassiday who has traveled to Europe to visit family. She recommends using a credit card (not a debit card) for most purchases.

  • Banks get a better exchange rate than you as an individual will receive. Consequently, that souvenir may end up costing you much less if you use a major credit card. This principle also applies for cash withdrawals.
  • Request a credit card with a RFID chip before heading to Europe as many businesses there won’t take a card without that chip.
Judith Ackland has more than 26 years of experience in accountancy and financial planning, including seventeen years as a CFO of a diverse business. She started Crystal Financial in 2010 to help a wide array of individuals, families, and business owners better understand their finances and how good financial management could help them achieve their goals. Judith has an MA in Professional Accountancy from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln as well as a Certified Public Accountant Certificate and a Certified Financial Planner designation.

Powered by Pixel Fire Marketing Pixel Fire Marketing