(Photo | Courtesy of OnPoint Community Credit Union)
Many Americans are ready to vacation after two years of the pandemic, yet they are now coping with rapidly rising prices for travel. Travel costs have risen nearly 19 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019 (according to the Travel Price Index from the U.S. Travel Association), forcing nearly seven out of ten Americans to say they are changing their summer travel plans by taking fewer trips or staying closer to home. To help individuals and families make the most of summer travel opportunities, OnPoint Community Credit Union released today a list of Smart Money Tips for Summer Travel that can help people maximize their budgets while minimizing surprise expenses.
“Members of our community are eager to return to travel, but soaring prices are creating a new set of obstacles,” said Rob Stuart, president and chief executive officer, OnPoint Community Credit Union. “We can’t control gas or grocery prices, but we can empower people with tools that give them more control over their budget so they can make the most of their travel plans this summer, and beyond.”
Smart Money Tips for Summer Travel:
- Fine-tune your budget: Scrub your recurring expenses by analyzing your bank statements and credit cards to see where you can cut back. New entertainment and convenience subscriptions that made sense during the pandemic may not be as critical now. Consider canceling a streaming app or food delivery service and divert that money into an expanded travel budget. Saving $15/month for three months could be enough to cover the increase in gas costs for a road trip.
- Save for travel with a system: You can build up your travel funds by implementing a systematic approach like a 52-week savings challenge. It works by saving the dollar amount that corresponds with the week of the year. For the first week of January, you’ll save $1. By the last week of December, you’re putting away $52. Keep that up all year long, and you will have saved about $1,400 without making a huge change in your spending habits. We recommend creating a separate savings account without debit or ATM card access for this fund, so you are not tempted to make withdrawals.
- Track flights and be flexible: If you booked a flight during the first two years of the pandemic, you may have enjoyed unusually low fares. Those days are over. According to Hopper, airfare has skyrocketed 40 percent since the start of the year and is 7 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels because of record jet fuel prices. If you can be flexible on your travel dates and destination of choice and do your research, you can still find decent prices. Ensure you are getting a good deal by tracking the price of preferred flights. Google offers a 60-day history of flights, which can show you if you are getting a good deal or not.
- Make a food plan: The cost of meals and snacks can strain a travel budget, especially in these days of rising food prices. Allow time to stop at the store for snacks before you travel to avoid paying for premium-priced meals at the airport or on the airplane. Search for grocery stores near your rental home or hotel and stock up on easy ingredients and snacks. Try to prepare as many meals as possible from your home base.
- Know before you go: As you rent your car and make sight-seeing reservations, research how your financial institution manages international travel. Does your bank charge a foreign transaction fee on credit and debit cards? Check the current foreign exchange rates so you know how much that keychain will cost you in U.S. dollars. Find out what tools your bank or credit union offers for travelers. OnPoint offers online tools that allow members to add their own travel notices, put a freeze on their credit card and find the closest ATM.
- Take care of the basics: In the days before your departure, notify your financial institution that you will be leaving town, so your card is not blocked due to unusual activity. Check with hotels, airlines or destinations to see if you will have internet access for online banking and withdraw some cash in the currency of the country you are visiting. By ensuring your financial resources are ready for travel, you avoid unexpected, costly hassles.
If you need additional support creating a dedicated budget for travel, managing through this era of inflation or have any other financial questions, you can seek out guidance at one of OnPoint’s 55 branches.
onpointcu.com • 503-228-7077 • 800-527-3932