Americans spent an average of almost $2,000 on their 2017 summer vacations, according to Allianz Travel Insurance. And if the trend the insurer’s Vacation Confidence Index has seen over the past three years continues, you can expect to spend an average of approximately $2,200 in 2018.
Depending on how you travel, though, you could cut back on your expenses. All you need to do is avoid some potentially costly mistakes when you’re planning your trip.
7 travel planning mistakes to avoid
Holly Johnson is an avid traveler. The freelance writer and co-owner of Club Thrifty spends roughly 12 weeks per year traveling the globe on a budget. As a result, she’s discovered several mistakes that lead to increased travel costs.
Here are some of the mistakes she’s noticed, along with a few of our own.
1. Staying loyal to one airline
“Loyalty to one airline doesn’t really pay off these days,” said Johnson. “If you book all your paid airfare with a specific airline to keep your [loyalty] status, you could miss out on lower prices elsewhere.”
What’s more, putting all your miles in one frequent flyer program can make it difficult to find award flights when you need them. “There’s nothing wrong with racking up airline miles via co-branded credit cards or paid flights, but you should try to keep your options open as much as you can,” Johnson said.
To get a good co-branded credit card, focus on airlines you frequently use, either because they usually offer inexpensive flights or because they have a hub close to where you live. But remember to keep an open mind when it comes time to book your trip.
And for the record, the same goes for hotels.
2. Traveling during peak season for no reason
If you have children, you’ve probably noticed that you and most of your friends usually travel when the kids are out of school and over holidays. The only problem is everyone else has the same idea, and the travel industry knows it.
Since the demand is so high, airlines, hotels, and car rental companies tend to charge higher prices during these times. So, if you can get away with traveling during off-peak times, you could save money.
To help, FareCompare shares the cheapest days to fly domestically and from the U.S. to Europe.
3. Not using travel deal websites
If you’re booking your flight and hotel directly through airline or hotel websites, you might be missing out on extra savings. Instead, search for deals on the following websites:
- Scott’s Cheap Flights notifies you when airlines list mistake fares that are significantly cheaper than usual.
- The Flight Deal shares multiple flight deals daily.
- Travelzoo lists offers from more than 2,000 travel, entertainment, and local companies.
- ShermansTravel shares deals and advice from travel experts.
- HotelTonight lists hotel deals for last-minute travel plans.
- Last Minute Cruises lists last-minute cruise deals for spontaneous travel.
- AutoSlash finds discount codes and searches multiple rental car companies to give you the best deals.
“AutoSlash can be immensely helpful for us to get lower rates on auto rentals,” said Johnson. “They do the work for you and alert you if a lower price comes along. It’s easy, and it’s free.”
4. Not being flexible with your destination
If your next vacation spot is popular with tourists, you might be able to enjoy a similar experience elsewhere without paying as much. For example, consider Willamette Valley in Oregon instead of Napa Valley in California or Puerto Rico instead of Hawaii.
Also, do a little research to see if your destination has different peak travel times than other areas and adjust your plans accordingly.
5. Not taking advantage of credit card rewards
“We leave for spring break in 12 days, and I paid for our four flights with Southwest miles [and] booked our hotels with IHG Rewards points and free night certificates from the Hyatt Credit Card,” said Johnson.
Johnson earned all the rewards she used for the trip through credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards. Having multiple travel credit cards isn’t the right choice for everyone. But it’s easy to earn enough points with one credit card to shave a few hundred dollars off a trip every year.
Keep in mind that responsible credit card use is essential to this strategy, however. Use a budget to avoid overspending and make sure to pay off your balance on time and in full each month.
6. Going into debt to pay for travel
According to a 2017 survey by LearnVest, 74% of Americans said they’ve gone into debt to pay for a vacation, with an average balance of $1,108.
Putting your trip costs on a credit card or taking out a personal loan might sound like an easy way to get what you want. But if you’re not careful, you could be be paying off that debt years from now.
Instead, do some math to determine how much your trip is going to cost. Divide that amount by the number of months you have between now and your departure date. Then, work to save that amount each month in a dedicated savings account.
Let’s say your trip will cost $2,000, for example, and you plan to leave in 10 months. That’s $200 per month you’ll need to save to avoid debt.
7. Paying for car rental insurance
Paying for rental car insurance can keep you from having to file a claim with your personal car insurance company in the event of an accident. But that insurance doesn’t come cheap. In some cases, it costs as much as the rental itself.
The good news is most credit cards offer rental car insurance, so you can skip the charge at the rental car counter. Most cards offer secondary coverage, though, which means you have to file a claim with your personal insurance company before the card benefits kick in.
“I recommend paying for rental cars with a travel credit card that offers primary auto rental coverage as a cardholder perk,” said Johnson. “My favorite options are Chase cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred because they offer this benefit for free.”
Note, however, that credit card rental car insurance doesn’t cover liability. So, you’ll need to purchase that coverage or file a claim with your personal insurance policy if an accident occurs.
Save money and gain peace of mind
It can be easy to allow expenses to get away from you when you’re planning a vacation. After all, you want to enjoy yourself and not constantly worry about how much it costs.
But with just a few changes to your planning, you could save hundreds of dollars on your trip and still enjoy it. In fact, you might enjoy it even more if you know you didn’t go into debt and saved money you can put toward your next vacation.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.30% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
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The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
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2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
APR stands for “Annual Percentage Rate.” Rates listed include a 0.25% EFT discount, for automatic payments made from a checking or savings account. Interest rates as of 11/8/2018. Rates subject to change.
Variable rate options consist of a range from 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term, 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term, 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term, 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.98% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 2.35% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 2.40% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.65% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.90% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term would be from $180.89 to $193.75. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term would be from $139.65 to $146.76. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term would be from $104.56 to $111.98. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term would be from $78.77 to $86.78. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term would be from $67.05 to $75.68.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.28% effective October 10, 2018.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.47% – 6.30%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.51% – 8.09%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.02% – 6.44%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.69% – 7.21%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.79% – 8.39%6||Undergrad & Graduate|