KNOWLEDGE CENTER: Are you traveling this summer? Be prepared to change the way you spend your budget [Column] | Business
With the COVID-19 vaccinations underway, the easing of restrictions and the end of the school year, many people are ready to get out of the house and spend their summers traveling again.
Whether it’s visiting family and friends, returning to the annual vacation, or choosing new destinations to explore, travelers make their plans. However, with some restrictions still in place or limited availability for flights or accommodation, traveling on a traditional budget can be difficult.
Here are some tips for traveling this summer without breaking the bank.
Take the road
Many travel experts are predicting that pent-up travel demand this summer will be unlike anything the industry has seen, leading to higher airfares that could make flying a budget strain.
Consider turning your summer vacation into a road trip, visiting family or friends on the way to your destination to save money on hotels for multi-day trips. My parents have been doing this for years and it has worked perfectly. It’s a great economical way to visit your children and grandchildren who might be scattered across the country.
If you’re not a typical road trip, invest in a few essentials like a good cooler to store drinks and picnics (those fast food queues can get quite long and slow you down), a phone and a dashboard phone mount for your car to use traffic and driving apps like Google Maps or Waze. Also consider a roadside assistance subscription like AAA, which often offers discounts on hotels and car rentals for travelers.
If you are traveling by plane this summer, experts suggest waiting when booking flights until more is known about the restrictions, including for children who are not of age to be vaccinated. .
And don’t forget to travel by train. With private rooms and tour cars equipped with air filtration systems on board, trains can sometimes serve as a middle ground between air travel and car travel in terms of price and time spent traveling and from your destination.
Extend your stay
With nowhere to go to spend their vacations in 2020, many people have deferred some of their paid time off and saved some extra money, and can now have the luxury of extending their day trips to full day trips. long weekends or long weekends to weeklong getaways.
If you’ve racked up the extra time and money, use it this summer for a little more relaxation or adventure after a long year at home.
Make travel spending rewarding
Ultimately, there will be costs associated with your vacation and the travel arrangements and expenses that go with it.
Consider using a cash rewards credit card for your spending to collect money for your purchases. Collect rewards when you pay your bill after the trip is over, budgeting to avoid revolving debt.
If you have a Travel Rewards credit card or participate in other loyalty programs, many airlines, hotels, and points and miles programs have extended benefits and timelines throughout the pandemic. Check with your loyalty program provider for options available to save money using rewards you earned before COVID-19.
Manage and transfer money quickly
If you prefer to use cash or debit, make sure your banking app is up to date and easily transfer money from savings to checking as needed.
Use payment apps like Zelle for person-to-person transfers to easily split the check when dining with fellow travelers or visiting family at one of your stops.
With more and more companies also accepting mobile payments like Zelle, you can make fast and secure payments on the go throughout your trip.
When planning your trip and evaluating travel options, create a spreadsheet or use a free budgeting app to assess how you can use your money to maximize the experience.
Keep your information safe
Finally, don’t forget to protect your banking and payment information. Set a one-time passcode or other phone security option so that only you can unlock it.
Download your banking, mobile payments, and credit card apps, but don’t save login credentials in apps, so if you lose your phone, even temporarily, others won’t have direct access and immediate to your accounts. And if you lose your wallet, you’ll have the correct contact information to report to your bank and credit card issuers.
Shari Kruzinski is Executive Vice President and Director of Retail Distribution at WSFS Bank. His career spans over 30 years in banking and with WSFS. In his current role, Shari leads overall market strategy, customer development and sales management for the Bank’s retail branch network.