Financial Well-Being Blog

Vacation Budgeting: How to Plan a Memorable Summer Getaway
May 03, 2024

Vacation Budgeting: How to Plan a Memorable Summer Getaway

Money Management

Summer vacations are a time to relax, unwind and create lasting memories with your friends and family. However, without proper budgeting and planning, vacations can quickly become a financial burden. Here are some effective strategies for budgeting and saving for summer vacation so you can focus on a leisurely vacation and making memories.

Set a Realistic Budget

The first step in vacation budgeting is determining how much you can realistically afford to spend. Consider your financial situation, including income, expenses and any existing savings. Be honest about what you can comfortably allocate towards your vacation fund.

Be Flexible on Your Destination + Dates

If you plan on flying, you’ll find the best budget-friendly vacations if you’re flexible on your destination. Instead of having a specific destination in mind, let the airline ticket prices choose. It also helps to have flexible dates as well. Use tools like Google Flights to seek out the cheapest period of time to get to any destination around the world. Leave your dates blank and enter “anywhere” as the destination to find the best possible deals.


Also, keep your eye out at airline carriers who are launching new routes. Sometimes airlines offer their lowest promotional prices when there is a new route launched.


If you’re set on a destination, the “shoulder seasons” are periods when destinations see fewer tourists. You can usually find great deals on hotels and flights plus fewer crowds. According to, the cheapest summer month to fly is August. The day of the week you travel can also make a difference in prices. The cheapest day of the week to fly is Tuesday or Wednesday and the most expensive day is Sunday.

Consider a Staycation

If a vacation is not on the books for you and your family this year, that does not mean you have to stay cooped up in the house all summer. You’re already saving on travel costs and possibly hotel costs as well. To make the most of a staycation, include a good balance of free activities and local things you would not typically treat yourself to.

Summer Travel and Fraud

While traveling, it is important to keep your financial account information and money safe from possible scams or outright theft. Unfortunately, many scam artists target tourists and travelers, so be sure to follow these tips.


Be sure to contact the issuing financial institution to add a travel notification. This will ensure they know it is you spending your money and will stop the card from being accidentally blocked.

  • Stick with credit - If cash is stolen or misplaced, it’s gone for good. There’s no way to replace those funds, and your chances of recovering the cash are slim. If your debit card is compromised, that means your bank account can be accessed, and money withdrawn from your account. While you can make a fraud claim on your account and issued a temporary credit, this isn’t something you want to have to deal with on vacation. If your credit card is compromised, however, you have more options. You can place a stop on the card and report fraudulent purchases directly to the card company. There are layers of protection against charges categorized as fraudulent, and you will be issued a new card. And always take more than one form of payment with you, just in case!
  • Be mindful in a crowd - If you are traveling and find yourself in a large crowd, keep an eye on your belongings and keep your purse or wallet close to the front of your body. Make sure you minimize the amount of cards and cash you are carrying in the event of a loss or theft. Never carry documentation like social security cards, passports, or birth certificates while you’re out. If theft of these items occurs, it could easily escalate to identity theft – which is harder to recover from.

More Budget Tips for Summer Travel:

  • Look for hotels that offer breakfast with the rate. Eat a hearty breakfast, pocket a muffin or banana for a snack to tide you over until an early dinner. You could also pack your own snacks to save on tourist food traps. Also – take advantage of local street food, which is generally cheaper than restaurants.
  • When considering destinations, investigate which cities have low-cost activities such as national parks or beach towns. Hiking trails, public beaches, museums with free admission days and local festivals are great options when looking at low-cost activities.
  • Use travel rewards. If you have travel rewards points or miles, consider using them to offset the cost of flights, hotels or rental cars for your summer vacation.
  • Search beyond hotels for accommodations. There are many budget-friendly places to stay such as hostels, vacation rentals or campgrounds that can significantly reduce your lodging expenses.
  • AirBnB and VRBO can be good options for a big group traveling together. Sharing a home with a group usually costs less than a hotel and you may have more space to spread out. You can also save money on meals if you have access to a kitchen and a nearby grocery store. Before booking, read the reviews. And it’s best to chat with the host beforehand to get a feel for the type of host they are and their property.
  • Limit souvenir spending. Set a limit on souvenir spending to avoid overspending on gifts. Focus on creating memories and experiences rather than buying expensive souvenirs.
  • A good exchange rate gives you extra buying power to maximize your travel experience. To get the best exchange rate, check your local branch to exchange foreign currency.

Planning ahead, setting a budget and being mindful of spending can help you make the most of your summer getaway while staying within your financial means. Wherever you may end up traveling this summer, make sure it’s affordable and stress-free. If you need more budget tips, CommunityAmerica’s Financial Well-Being Coaches offer free expert guidance on vacation budgeting. Start your customized financial plan with a Well-Being Coach to help you achieve financial peace of mind.

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About the Author
janelle holland
Janelle Holland

Financial Well-Being Coach

Janelle Holland joined CommunityAmerica in 2019 as the Assistant Branch manager of the Todd George Branch and currently serves as a Financial Well-Being Coach at the Hickman Mills Community Access Center.