Q: Our family vacation got a little expensive this summer. I think it was because we put it all together at the last minute. Does the BBB have some tips to consider so that next summer's vacation is not as costly?
A: Vacations can sometimes come with a hefty price tag. Rather than overspending, be proactive and plan ahead. This time around, you can enjoy a real vacation without depleting your funds or creating unnecessary debt.
As you begin planning your trip, check your BBB to make sure that all deals are legitimate. Avoid being scammed by doing your research and planning carefully.
ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions, a BBB National Partner, provides great tips on how to make vacationing more affordable. Here are eight ways you can better manage your budget when preparing for your next excursion:
1) Put away those credit cards! - Avoid the debt trap by saving up ahead of time for your holidays, and use cash whenever possible. When you run out, you run out.
2) Prepare a budget - Planning is key. Make a little room in your budget by cushioning it for unexpected occurrences and emergencies. The rule of thumb: Set a budget and stick to it.
3) Be resourceful - Check the Chamber of Commerce website where you will be vacationing for suggestions and links to recreational ideas. Or consider a staycation - a budget vacation where you visit nearby attractions but sleep in your own bed at night.
4) Timing is everything - If you do plan on traveling outside of your immediate area, aim for the off-season. Prices are usually substantially lower, and you won't have to deal with the crowds. Off-season depends on where you are: summer can be a terrific time to visit a ski resort, where you can get nice rooms and all the nonskiing amenities for a fraction of the cost of a winter trip.
5) Short and sweet - You don't have to go on a two-week trip in order to feel refreshed after a vacation. Take a long weekend or two, and maximize your itinerary by planning activities well ahead of time.
6) Avoid unnecessary costs - Don't find yourself trapped by additional charges or fees. For example, avoid hotel room phones, which often carry hefty surcharges.
7) Pack your own meals - When on the road, avoid gas station convenience stores, which generally have higher prices. Also, check your local visitors' center or websites for coupons to local restaurants.
8) Transport yourself - Choose a location with lots to see and do, and walk from place to place. Also, consider using the local bus or transit service rather than driving and parking.
To view the full article, check out ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions at http://www.clearpointcreditcounselingsolutions.org/tips-and-tools/articles-and-tips/seasonal-articles/summer-vacation-savings/. And check out the businesses you deal with by heading first to bbb.org.