Washington, DC, May 10, 2011 – As the weather begins to heat up, many Americans start to dream about going away on vacation. Unfortunately, soaring fuel and airfare costs have a lot of Americans wondering if they can afford to travel this summer. According to Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Consumer Advocate Eleanor Blayney, CFP®, summer revelers can still have a relaxing vacation away from home by using creative financial planning to save money and have a great time.
“You can keep vacation costs reasonable with a little creativity and a lot of planning,” says Blayney. “Given that there may be no getting around the higher costs of travel – whether by car, train, or plane – you need to focus on all the other expense items of your vacation for opportunities to save.”
Here are a few ways to make travel more affordable this year:
- Plan your every move before you start. Map out how you will spend each day of your vacation – where you will eat, what you will do, what you will buy – and approximately what each activity will cost. Knowing your costs beforehand is a powerful budgeting tool, whereas leaving everything to chance, proximity, and hunger pangs can get expensive. What’s more, planning can heighten and extend the fun of the actual excursion, as any ten-year old getting ready for a trip to Disney World can tell you.
- Get everyone in on the act. If you are taking a family vacation, give everyone – even school-aged kids – budget responsibility for one aspect of the trip. Have that ten-year old manage the snack or bottled water expenses; a teen can be responsible for lunches or sightseeing expenses. You can even make it a contest: best budget manager gets a “splurge allowance” (which, of course, you have already planned for!).
- Consider a home swap or hospitality exchange. In the first case, you actually trade homes for a specified time with a person or family living in the area you wish to visit. In the second case, you host travelers in your home, and then are hosted by them in return. These arrangements are generally far less costly than hotels or vacation rentals. The internet has greatly facilitated and broadened the market for home exchanges, particularly in the case of foreign travel. Just exercise caution and do your homework before entering into any agreements.
- Return to a favorite place rather than someplace new. Similar to the benefits of advance planning, going back to a place you have visited before provides important pre-travel information you can use to keep your expenses in check. You will already have a good idea of the places to eat, to stay, to visit and to shop, and can make cost-effective choices accordingly.
However, Blayney recognizes that even if you take her cost-saving advice, you still may not be able to balance your vacations plans with your budget. She suggests an alternative.
“Remember that getting away can be more a state of mind than a matter of geography,” Blayney advises. “Become a bona fide visitor in your own city or town. Stay at a local hotel, and plan your days as a tourist, seeing and doing things you assumed you could always do later.”
ABOUT CFP BOARD: The mission of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is to benefit the public by granting the CFP® certification and upholding it as the recognized standard of excellence for personal financial planning. The Board of Directors, in furthering CFP Board's mission, acts on behalf of the public, CFP® certificants and other stakeholders. CFP Board owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements. CFP Board currently authorizes more than 62,000 individuals to use these marks in the United States.
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Dan Drummond, Director of Public Relations
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