Have you decided on a vacation destination yet this summer? If not, you can still save money by avoiding the crowds. We’ll offer some tips and advice on this MoneyWise.
- A court order has lifted the mask mandate on planes, trains, and buses. With restrictions easing, travelers are expected to be out in force this summer. In fact, a NerdWallet survey found that, incredibly, 7 out of 10 Americans are making plans for leisure travel in the next 12 months.
- Travel is up … and so are prices! Rapidly rising oil prices are expected to have a big impact on travel costs this summer. That’s putting upward pressure on airline ticket prices and what you’re paying at the pump.
- STAYING ON BUDGET
- That said, it could be difficult to stay within your vacation budget this summer unless you choose a destination “far from the madding crowd.” Going “where others aren’t” could just be your ticket to saving money this summer.
- If a spot is popular, you can expect to pay higher prices for travel there and lodging once you arrive. It’s simple economics — supply and demand.
- AVOID THE CROWDS
- So let’s start our search for vacation destinations by eliminating a few places where you’re likely to have trouble staying on budget. Heading that list is Mexico. If you can believe it, occupancy rates for vacation rentals in Mexico are up 40-percent over 2019. In fact, they’re actually higher now than in 2019.
- If you’re planning to stay in the U.S. this summer, the “avoid the crowds” rule remains in effect. That’s why it’s no surprise that the most expensive domestic destinations are all big cities.
- The top five include: New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, San Francisco and Miami, but avoiding any big city will likely make staying on budget much easier.
- You might also want to avoid what TheTravel.com calls the most overrated vacation spots in the U.S., and again, these all have big crowds. They include iconic landmarks like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Times Square in New York, the Four Corners Monument where New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado meet in one spot, the Mall of America in Minneapolis, and either of the two Disney theme parks.
- EARLY BOOKING = PRICIER
- Speaking of booking, it’s a general rule that to find a vacancy, you want to book as far ahead as possible, and that makes sense for availability. But did you know that the farther ahead you lock in your reservation, the more likely you are to pay top rates? It’s true.
- On the other hand, the closer you are to your vacation dates, the less you’ll pay.
- Now, the reason for this is simple. Airline seats and hotel rooms are highly perishable items. If they go unsold on a given day, they’re gone forever and can never be sold on that day again. That’s why prices fall as a given date nears.
- And that rule is especially true if vendors aren’t seeing hordes of people clamoring for travel and lodging accommodations, which is the reason you can save money by staying off the beaten path.
- OFF THE BEATEN PATH
- Where would those destinations be? For starters, just about any national park. And you don’t have to be a camper to enjoy them. Most have ample hotel and motel accommodations nearby.
- Topping this list, according to U.S. News, are the Grand Canyon, Glacier, Olympic and Sequoia National Parks. You can take in the glorious sights of God’s creation from your car by stopping in dozens of scenic overlooks, or by day hiking the trails, then return to your comfy hotel room at the end of the day.
- Outside of our nation’s parks, budget-friendly destinations include:
- St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in the U.S.
- Gatlinburg, Tennessee with a tramway that takes you from the town to the mountain tops)
- Nags Head on North Carolina’s Outer Banks with great beaches and the nearby Wright Brothers Museum in Kitty Hawk
- Colorado Springs on the doorstep of the Rocky Mountains.
- Those are all great places where you can get more for your vacation dollars while staying away from the crowds.
On this program, Rob also answers listener questions:
- Would it be wise to reduce contributions to a retirement plan to build up an emergency fund?
- Does it make sense to take a company pension as a monthly payment or a lump sum?
- Is it wise to sell a rental property to pay off credit card debt, even though it would greatly reduce household income?
Remember, you can call in to ask your questions most days at (800) 525-7000 or email them to Questions@MoneyWise.org. Also, visit our website at MoneyWise.org where you can connect with a MoneyWise Coach, join the MoneyWise Community, and even download the free MoneyWise app.