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Summer has arrived, and with it, the irresistible urge to take a vacation. Whether you have a desire to see the world, visit family, or spend your time at the beach, the costs add up. Between airfare, accommodations, and incidental expenses of living away from home, your little vacation can cost more than you bargain for.
A new report by Credit Karma shows that two in five Americans go into debt for summer vacations. Millennials and Gen Z are the worst culprits, with about half of each generation taking out summer cash loans to make the most of the season.
Most cite “YOLO” as the reason why they take on debt for summer travel. But taking on debt when you don’t have to can put your finances in a bind long after your vacation is over and you’re back to work.
While it might be tempting to take a financial shortcut with a personal loan this summer, you don’t have to borrow money to get the vacation you deserve. You can save money quickly and easily by following smart travel hacks.
1. Download Cash-Savings Apps to Your Phone
Your phone can play an important role in your vacation budget. Equipped with the right apps, your phone delivers cost-saving discounts or budgeting tips right to your screen. With a tap of your finger, you can save money with these apps:
- GasBuddy, which finds the cheapest gas prices in your area.
- WiFi-Finder connects you with free, safe Wi-Fi so you can stop overusing your data and avoid overage charges.
- Mint automates your budget so you can keep track of important bills and goals.
- Shopkick is a rebate platform that allows you to earn points on purchases you can redeem for gift cards.
2. Be Mindful About Your Calendar
For most of us, a vacation happens whenever we can get the time off. But if you have any flexibility about your travel dates, adjusting your holiday can reap some cash benefits.
It all starts with when you travel. According to industry insiders, certain days are cheaper to fly or rent a vehicle. Wednesdays tend to be the best bet, with Tuesdays and Saturdays coming in second and third.
When you reserve these tickets may also have an impact on the prices you pay. Of course, flying off-peak is usually the best way to save money, but if you’re dead set on a vacation this summer, try booking your flights on Sunday. As for car rentals, you might get the best deal by booking three to six months in advance.
3. Cash In on Your Rewards Points
Are you guilty of hoarding your reward points? It happens to the best of us. You sign up for credit cards and loyalty programs that earn points for every dollar spent, and you keep racking them up with no intention of redeeming them.
According to a recent survey, some 23% of people haven’t redeemed any points this past year. That means nearly one-quarter of all rewards cardholders leave money on the table.
Let’s face it — it’s easy to keep hoarding points, waiting to redeem them until you hit an impressive yet arbitrary number big enough to go on a no-holds-bar vacation. But in reality, you may never see this mythical payout. Worse yet, hoarding can actually devaluate the points offered by many of the world’s biggest companies.
If you have points, use them—no matter how many (or few) you might have. You can even put them towards partial payment of rentals, accommodations, or airfare.
As summer draws to a close, it’s important to look at your finances and plan a suitable vacation. While you might not be able to do an all-inclusive, 5-star resort around the world, you can probably take a relaxing staycation.