Vacation Budgeting

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Can you afford to get in one more family trip during the upcoming Labor Day weekend?

According to AAA, 33 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home during the holiday weekend, despite the fact gas prices are hovering near the $4 mark.

Clearly, budgeting for gas is a huge factor for families looking to hit the road on a final summer fling, but it isn’t the only financial element to consider. Crunching numbers can provide a major reality check when it comes to vacation planning. However, by doing the math before you leave home, you can avoid racking up unwanted credit card debt.

When calculating the cost of an end-of-the-summer trip, start by estimating transportation expenses. Include gas, airfare, car rental, the cost of leaving your vehicle at your home airport, cab fees, and other means of transportation to and from various attractions. Then, add in your next costliest expenditure. For most travelers it will be accommodations. To keep costs down, look for lodgings that offer free breakfast or allow kids to stay and eat for free. Another way to reduce your vacation spending is to stay at a hotel that includes various amenities at no extra cost, such as a gym, pool, Wi-Fi, parking and cribs.

Food is another expense that you will need to budget for. By formulating a general game plan for meals you will be able to keep a handle on expenses. It’s a good idea to determine how much money you can spend on meals prior to leaving home. For example, if you put aside $100 per day for meals, and your hotel offers free breakfast, then you know that you can splurge a little on lunch, snacks and dinner. Or, you could use any extra savings from meals to help offset other expenses. Another idea is to put the money in an emergency fund to pay for unexpected expenditures, such as a flat tire, pain medication or a new stroller should yours break at the amusement park.

Finally, don’t forget to include pre-vacation expenses. Items like new clothes, sunglasses, sunscreen, slippers, toiletries, and pet-sitting fees should be considered when calculating the entire cost of your family vacation.

Related Articles:

Spend Less, Travel More

Budget-Friendly Summer Escapes in New York

Ways to Save on Your Summer Vacation

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About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.