Limit Travel Woes Before You Go

by Mandi Moynihan, CFP® on Tuesday April 04, 2023
Posted in Category: Saving, Vacations
Tagged with : , ,

women distressed at an airport

Last year I took a trip, and anything that could go wrong travel-wise, did! Flight cancellations, lost luggage, and weather delays — all of these incurred a slew of unexpected expenses. I had meticulously planned and budgeted for this trip; however, I didn’t anticipate all these vacation “extras.”

The cost of airline tickets, hotels and rental cars have gone up — along with the increased frequency of travel delays. All of these factors can create some anxiety as you plan your next trip. With summer travels heating up, I want to share some lessons I’ve learned to help you and your wallet relax.

1. Set a goal and save for it

It’s important to establish a vacation budget, so you can enjoy your trip and not stress about paying for it. After all, the whole point here is for you to relax and enjoy some well-earned time off.

Budget for airfare, hotel, transportation, and those fun activities you want to experience on the trip. As you work through this exercise, keep a few things in mind:

  • Got kids? Consider hotels with free breakfast to save a few bucks.
  • No children or spouse? Travel with a friend and split some of the expenses.
  • Need a vehicle? Consider renting for only a portion of your trip to save a few dollars and watch out for hotel parking fees that can add up.
  • Prepared for delays? We don’t want to think about this, but if a delay happens, you want to be ready for “extras” like additional meals in the airport or on the road.
  • Time to research? This is an upfront effort, but it can really save you money. If you’re flying, consider using price alerts and learn the best days of the week to travel. If your dates are flexible, align your trip with the lowest airfare.

Download the SMART Savings Worksheet to help gameplan your vacation and find ways to pay for it. Set up an automatic savings plan so you can set it and forget it.

The earlier you start saving, the better off you’ll be when it comes time to purchase. I planned a year in advance so I wouldn’t incur debt for vacation. It’s no fun when debt follows you home!

2. Buy trip insurance?

Insurance is meant to provide financial protection and peace of mind, but you’ve got to evaluate if it’s worth the cost. Last year was the first time I purchased trip insurance. I felt relatively comfortable when the first flight cancelled, but what I didn’t know was “certain conditions apply” and only weather-related issues were covered in my policy. Since this was not weather related, the trickle-down costs of the cancellation weren’t covered. That sure rained on our parade!

Airlines typically cover some costs associated with delays, and TRICARE may cover medical while on travel, but you have to do your homework to see if a policy is right for you.

The bottom line is, insurance can help you recoup some costs when hiccups arise, but read the fine print closely, see what makes sense for you, and save all receipts.

3. Pack smartly!

With all the possible travel debacles, the chances of not reconnecting with your bags goes up. For your carry-on, be sure to pack extra clothes, toiletries, medicine, and necessities for a couple of days. This helps you avoid buying unnecessary (and sometimes more costly) items during your trip.

It’s super exciting to plan that special getaway, but make sure you implement some practicalities when planning to help reduce costs and bring peace of mind while on vacation.

Bon voyage!


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