OUR TAKE
The Cost of Getting Away

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By Dayana Yochim (TMF School)
July 9, 2002

Does your credit card statement hold a place of prominence in your photo album? If you financed your summer vacation with plastic -- and about 40 percent of vacationers do -- move the snapshots and make room for your bill. It may be the most lasting memory of your trip, according to a recent survey.

Credit cards will finance almost 40 percent of summer vacations this year, according to "Americans, Summer Vacation and Debt," a national study by AmeriDebt and Opinion Research Corp. What's troubling about that stat is that more than half of vacationers who put their trip on plastic will not pay it off right away.

With vacationers spending an average of $1,500 on their trip, that's a lot of Mai Tais and inner tube rentals. Putting $20 a month toward that balance at an interest rate of 14%, that off-center photo of little Lily careening down the water slide will cost you $3,428.43 over the next 14 years.

If you've already taken your cruise/camping trip/Civil War re-enactment outing, total your expenses, divide them by 12, and start stashing away that amount to cover next year's summer blowout. If you've already financed your travels with Visa and can't pay it off, negotiate for the lowest rate possible and pay it off, pronto.

And if you're still planning your warm-weather jaunt, keep an eye on the biggest vacation expenses -- hotel accommodations, air fare (see what fares Fools are finding), and Disney doodads.

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