By Josh Jones
Managing Editor, MoneyMix
Summertime and the living's easy, or at least that's how the song goes.
Road trips, hitting the beach and vacations are as much a part of summer as fireworks on July 4th. But many of us are planning to stay put during the upcoming summer travel season.
Only 42% of Americans plan to spend their time and money on a vacation this summer compared to 49% who planned to travel in 2005. A third have already cancelled at least one trip because of financial concerns, according to a recent poll released by the Associated Press and GfK (baltimoresun.com May 19).
A third have already cancelled at least one trip because of financial concerns
Of those planning to travel, people between 18-to-29 are the second most likely to get out of town for summer fun, according to the survey. And for those of us just starting out in life, we probably don't have a lot of extra money sitting around.
So, while account balances seemingly shrink during tough economic times-and we don't have a lot of cash to begin with-there are ways to have frugal fun in the sun without burning a hole in your wallet.
Check out these tips inspired by the June 2009 issue of Readers Digest:
- Create a budget. Use EasyBudget in My MoneyMix to identify how much you have to spend on your excursion. Don't forget to plan for expenses such as meals, souvenirs, transportation, lodging, and entertainment. Be sure to include funds for unexpected expenses and take into account any membership or organizational discounts such as AAA. Save several budgets with different travel options in EasyBudget and compare them. This will help you decide which options are best.
- Flight control. Travel expert Peter Greenberg advises, "the best time to book a flight is 12:01 a.m. Wednesday morning, in the time zone where the airline is based." (Readers Digest June 2009). You can also track the price of flights before, and after, you book them using Web sites like yapta.com. These Web sites will notify you if the rate drops enabling you to contact the airline for a refund of the price difference.
- Wheels and lodging deals. Use bargain travel sites like Hotwire.com to search for low rates on rooms and rental cars. When renting a vehicle, choose a location close to your hotel or airport to avoid airport convenience fees. Readers Digest also suggests Hotels.com when searching for lodging. The site offers discounted rates on rooms and a price match guarantee.
- Travel insurance. Travel insurance can save you a lot of hassle and expense even if your trip costs only a few hundred dollars. Basic travel insurance will cover things like delays, lost baggage, and emergency medical expenses and is relatively inexpensive. Readers Digest suggests using insureymtrip.com to compare plans.
- Last minute planning. When you have little time to plan, Readers Digest recommends using lastminute.com to find travel packages which include transportation and lodging. Other sites, like airfarewatchdog.com list reduced prices for last minute air travel.
For more information, watch "Keep Your Travel Money Safe," here on MoneyMixTM: Launch Your Life. Happy trails!