It may still be spring, but many of us have started daydreaming about summer and all the fun it brings. Here are some tips on how to get the most of your vacation dollar, as well as ways to help keep the kids busy without going broke.
If your family is planning to flock to the nearest major amusement park when school lets out, start shopping for tickets now. Official websites will show you what to expect, but for some parks, you may be able to find discounted tickets from their authorized resellers’ sites. To avoid going into debt once you arrive (looking at you, $8 bottle of water), do a little prep. Sunscreen, first aid items, a refillable water bottle—if there’s an item you might need that you’re allowed to bring, buy it ahead of time.
Hitting the open road and exploring the country is a great way to spend a summer vacation. But while it’s cheaper than flying, costs can still add up. If you’re into the outdoors, avoid hotel charges and consider a trip where you can camp. Prefer to sleep in a bed? See if your credit card offers travel rewards points that you can use to drive down the cost of hotels.
To get the best deal on gas, download a gas finder app. These days, you can find several apps that use your location to identify the cheapest gas nearest to you. You may only save ten cents right now, but the savings add up over a multi-week trip.
Staycations / local attractions
If money is tight, turn your local city into a vacation destination. Find a deal on a nearby hotel, or stay home and plan a week of fun activities around town. Museums and zoos sometimes offer free days, while many movie theaters provide discounted family show times on weekdays. Also, check coupon sites for big deals on local restaurants and attractions.
With a staycation, you can plan affordable day trips or do fun activities on your property. Want to catch up on some peaceful gardening? Have a queue of movies to watch? Avoid the stress and costs of travel, and relax at home instead. You could do a stay-at-home camping trip in the backyard, hold a “Backyard Olympics” with fun competitions, or just unplug by taking a break from technology and media.
National parks offer a rare opportunity: you can have a life-changing experience even on a tight budget. Whether you’re introducing your family to the historical scenery, or seeking some much-needed peace and relaxation, national parks are a great option. In fact, New Mexico has 15 national parks, monuments, preserves, and historical trails to enjoy, from Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands to the south to Capulin Volcano and the Aztec Ruins to the north.
Utilize technology for the best deals
These days, there’s a travel app or website for pretty much everything – including tracking down the lowest priced flights, hotels, and travel packages. While each app may have a slightly different focus, try out several to see which ones work best for your needs. Keep in mind that some of these sites do not carry regional airlines, which often have good deals. And, when you do find a great flight deal, take a look at the airline’s website since some deals are only available when you book direct.
Some travel operators offer special deals for those who follow them on social media. The best deals go fast, so follow your favorites on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to their promotional email lists. Just be sure that the social media that you follow is official to the company – there are imposters out there whose aim to get your personal information.
Although summer’s on the horizon, remember that it’s never too late to have a sound financial strategy around vacation expenses. Nusenda Credit Union has lots of ways to help:
- A great series of no-cost, year-round workshops and webinars on all kinds of money topics.
- SavvyMoney, a no-cost, anonymous, online tool that helps you analyze your financial health.
- BALANCE™ Financial Fitness, a no-cost, comprehensive financial education and counseling service.
- Money Manager, a secure online financial management tool that can help you get a clear picture of your financial situation and reach your goals.
- A collection of financial calculators that are useful at any point in your life, whether you’re applying for a credit card or planning for retirement.
Nusenda Credit Union also has holiday and vacation club savings accounts – get started on a nest egg for next summer’s adventures with as little as $5!
Connect with us in a way that’s easiest for you – in-person at a branch, by phone, or online – so we can help you be financially ready for all life brings.
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