Summer vacations are perfect for hitting the road and having an adventure or staying closer to home and simply recharging. The slower pace and rest a vacation offers are priceless, but that doesn’t mean you should relax your financial vigilance. Here are some ideas to help you get the most for your money as you travel this summer.
Consider off-season tropical destinations
During the winter months, tropical hot spots command top dollar. But if you’re not averse to hot and humid weather, there are bargains to find south of the Equator during the summer months. Land a package deal to a Caribbean or South American destination and you can look forward to less crowded beaches and hotels in paradise.
Take advantage of the stronger dollar in Europe
For the first time in over a decade, the U.S. dollar is approaching a 1:1 ratio with the euro. That means American travelers can expect their vacation budgets to go further in the 19 countries operating on the euro currency. Airfare to Europe has also fallen, making this summer an ideal time to cross the Atlantic. If you plan to visit several countries, consider purchasing a Eurail pass to stretch your dollar across the continent. The pass allows you to travel between multiple countries by train within a 30-day window for one reasonable price.
Think outside the hotel room
There are more lodging choices than ever before if you’re willing to venture beyond hotels for your accommodations. Check out websites that coordinate home sharing in hundreds of countries around the world, typically at prices far below standard hotel rates. Also consider family-run pensions (short-stay boarding houses in Europe) and bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) for cheaper and more intimate stays. If you like having a full kitchen to make your own meals (also a money-saver), look into short-term vacation home and apartment rentals.
If you aren’t particular about where you travel or specifically when, you can often find last-minute deals online. These typically are package deals to specific cities or attractions that include airfare, hotel and other amenities like a rental car or some meals. Compare offers and determine which provides the best value. Also, when you’re booking airfare, be flexible with your travel dates to improve your odds of landing a better price. Consider a midweek departure and return to avoid paying higher weekend rates. Airlines also tend to start sales at the beginning of the week, so keep an eye out for promotions.
Traveling comes with expenses, but vacations memories are irreplaceable. If you need help planning your trip, consider working with a travel agent who can provide information and tips for saving money on specific locales. Also, consider working with a financial advisor who can help you budget and work toward both your short- and long-term financial goals including traveling, buying a home, saving for college and retiring.
Scott D. Serfass, CFP®, CRPC®, CDFA™, CLU®, ChFC® is a financial advisor and senior partner of Serfass, Phillips & Associates, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. His team specializes in helping people retire confidently and develop plans to help families effectively share wealth across multiple generations. To contact him, visit http://www.ameripriseadvisors.com/scott.d.serfass