Published in: Credit Cards | July 29, 2019
By: Maurie Backman
Low on funds? No need to miss out on a great summer getaway.
Summer is a great time to get away and escape the daily grind -- even if you're on a budget. The good news is that you don't need to sock away a fortune of money to enjoy a fun getaway this year. All you need to do is plan wisely. Here's how.
Theme parks and beach resorts tend to be popular during the summer, so if you want to swing an enjoyable getaway without spending hundreds of dollars per day, you may be best off avoiding them. Instead, choose a random city you've always wanted to visit, but one that isn't necessarily a summertime hotspot.
If you're really craving the ocean and sand, choose a beach destination without frills -- meaning, one that doesn't have a hopping boardwalk. Chances are, it'll be a lot cheaper than a beach surrounded by rides, games, and attractions.
If you have a great travel rewards credit card that makes it easy to accumulate air miles, cashing them in is a good way to fly somewhere without spending money of your own. But if you don't have enough air miles to reach your desired destination, consider road-tripping instead if you've traveling as a group. It'll most likely be the case that the cost of fuel and tolls split among you will be far cheaper than buying everyone in your party a plane ticket.
Furthermore, if you're willing to drive to your destination, you'll have a vehicle at your disposal once you get there, so you can avoid spending the money to rent one. And you won't have to worry about baggage fees -- just stick your luggage in your trunk and call it a day.
If you have hotel points from business trips or leisure travel, you can certainly cash them in for a free room this summer. But if you don't, choosing a vacation rental over a hotel could save you a bundle of money. Sites like AirBnb, Homeaway, and VRBO are loaded with affordable rentals, and if you're traveling as a family, you'll have the option to rent a larger home so that everyone has space and privacy.
Another benefit of renting a home versus staying at a hotel? You'll have the option to cook your own meals, thereby negating the need to dine out at restaurants your entire trip. And depending on how long you're planning to be away, that could save you hundreds of dollars.
Many cities offer free entertainment if you're willing to do a little research to find it. For example, some locales offer free zoo or museum days, so if you time your visit properly, you might take in local attractions for absolutely no money.
Furthermore, activities like hiking are generally free (though you'll sometimes pay an entrance or parking fee at state parks, and you'll always pay to drive into a national park), so if you're into being outdoorsy, it's a good way to stay entertained without having to plunk down a ton of cash.
You don’t need to drive yourself into debt to enjoy a relaxing summer vacation this year. If you’re low on cash, it pays to explore your options for getting away on the cheap. At the same time, be smart about maximizing your credit card rewards to cover certain aspects of your trip, whether it’s airfare, lodging, or even meals. You could, for example, use the money from your cash-back rewards to cover the cost of food while on the go.
And remember, no matter how many awesome photos your friends post of their fancy getaways, you can have just as good a time by focusing on the things you are doing rather than fixating on the things you aren’t doing. Chances are, those friends will come away from their vacations with raging credit card balances that can’t be paid off right away, whereas if you play your cards right, you’ll emerge from your travels debt-free and stress-free at the same time.
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