If there's one thing Americans are bad at, it's taking vacation. But we all need the occasional getaway, and for many of us, summer is the perfect time to escape town for a bit. The problem, of course, is that summertime travel can be expensive. In fact, new data from Twine tells us that the average American plans to spend $564 this season for a weekend trip, or $1,928 for a week-long trip. Seeing as the majority of U.S. adults have less than $1,000 in the bank, it's safe to assume that many will rack up debt in an effort to enjoy a vacation. And that's a mistake that could cost them.
Don't charge your vacation
Tempting as it may be to use a credit card to pay for your next vacation, it's a bad idea if you don't have the money on hand to actually cover that trip. That's because carrying a credit card balance for any amount of time could leave you on the hook for serious interest charges -- charges that make your vacation more expensive than necessary.
Imagine you charge a $1,928 vacation on a credit card, and it takes you a full year to pay it off. At 20% interest, you'll wind up spending over $200 more for no good reason. And that's money you can do a lot of things with -- including pay for next year's travels. Therefore, if you're planning a getaway this summer, you're much better off saving the money to pay for it first.
Paying for your summer travels
If you're short on funds but intent on enjoying a vacation this summer, there are several avenues you can take that don't involve a credit card. First, go through your expenses and slash some immediately. For example, if you usually spend $200 a month on leisure and another $200 on restaurant meals, eliminate both between now and when you're going away, and use that money to cover your travel costs.
Another option? Get a side job. Taking on a side gig temporarily could spell the difference between actually affording your vacation and having to resort to debt.
Imagine you're planning a getaway for late August. If you work a second gig over the next six weeks and manage to bring home $150 a week from it, you'll have enough money to pay for almost half of what the average week-long trip will cost. In the aforementioned study, 30% of respondents said they'd be willing to get a side hustle to pay for a summertime vacation, so if you go that route, you'll be in good company.
Finally, don't underestimate the impact of selling off items you have lying around that you don't actually want or need. That piece of artwork your grandmother gave you years ago might turn into a $200 payout if you find a dealer who wants it, so you're better off unloading it than keeping it stashed away in your closet. The same holds true for electronics, furniture, and even gently used clothing you no longer have a use for. And while you're on that selling spree, don't forget to cash in the gift cards you have lying around. There are several sites that let you trade gift cards for cash, and while you'll take a hit on their face value, you'll have money in hand to use for your trip.
We all deserve the occasional getaway, so if you're aiming to take one this summer, be sure to save for it appropriately. The last thing you want is for your highly anticipated vacation to turn into an ongoing source of financial stress.