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Here's how to set a realistic budget for family vacations

Take a family vacation without going broke!
Posted at 1:28 PM, Jun 29, 2023

Setting a realistic budget for summer vacations is crucial to ensure financial stability and avoid overspending.

Julianne Brown, Branch Manager at Mountain America Credit Union, joined us with a few tips to keep in mind.

• Determine your total available funds: Start by assessing your current financial situation. Take into account your savings, disposable income, and any additional sources of funds that you can allocate towards your summer vacation.

• Identify your vacation priorities: Decide what aspects of your vacation are most important to you. Is it the destination, accommodations, activities, or dining experiences? Prioritize these elements based on your preferences and allocate a portion of your budget accordingly.

• Research and estimate costs: Conduct thorough research on your chosen destination, including accommodation options, transportation expenses, meals, entertainment, and any additional activities you plan to indulge in. Utilize online travel platforms, forums, and guides to gather information and estimate the costs involved.

• Plan for the unexpected: While setting a budget, it's essential to account for unforeseen expenses or emergencies. Allocate a portion of your funds as a buffer for any unexpected situations that may arise during your vacation.

Julianne also shared some smart saving strategies for people to consider during vacations.

• Plan and book in advance. This allows you to take advantage of early booking discounts, promotional offers, and better deals on flights, accommodations, and activities.

• Be flexible with travel dates: Consider traveling during off-peak seasons or weekdays when prices tend to be lower. This may help you secure more affordable rates on flights, hotels, and attractions.

• Compare prices and explore alternatives by not settling for the first option you come across.

• Pack wisely to save on luggage fees.

• Research local transportation options at your destination including public transportation instead of taxis or rental cars when feasible. Consider walking or biking. If you do rent a car, compare prices from different providers.

• Take advantage of free or low-cost activities including museums, parks, and events at your destination.

• Cook some of your meals: Dining out for every meal can quickly increase your expenses. Save money by preparing some of your meals yourself.

• Consider setting a daily spending limit and make sure you stick to it.

Oftentimes people use their credit cards more when they're out of town. Here are tips from Julianne about how to avoid unnecessary interest charges.

• Pay off balances in full before you go! Before your vacation, try your best to pay off your existing credit card balances in full to avoid carrying debt into your trip.

• Using a card with a low-interest rate or introductory 0% APR offer can provide temporary relief from interest charges, allowing you to focus on repaying the debt without accruing additional costs.

• While credit cards offer convenience, try to limit your credit card use to essential expenses. Relying on credit cards can lead to overspending and accumulating more debt than you can comfortably manage.

• Understand foreign transaction fees. If you're traveling internationally, familiarize yourself with the foreign transaction fees imposed by your credit card issuer. These fees can add up quickly, so consider using credit cards that offer low or no foreign transaction fees.

• Consider debt consolidation options, especially if you find yourself with a lot of debt after vacation.

Julianne also recommends using budgeting apps like Mint or YNAB (You Need a Budget) to help you track your expenses and set budgeting goals.

You may also want to consider enrolling in financial education courses or workshops that your preferred financial institution may offer.

Mountain America offers free financial education resources and financial guides that can help you.

For more information and to find a branch near you visit