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Oh yes, we are late. But there is nothing called the right time to take that break. However, planning a vacation can be extremely stressful, when one considers all the things that goes into it. Ways to plan a sound vacation include researching your dream destination, budgeting for your getaway, and figuring out how to safely and conveniently manage your finances during your trip. Here are a few tips to help get your vacation off to the right start.
1. Set a budget
Figure out how much money you will be able to spend on your travel, including destinations, transportation and accommodation. Knowing this will help you narrow down your options. In addition to the major expenses, sudden expenses can pop up that can burn a hole in your wallet.
2. Exploring various options
Prices vary as widely as the possible selections. When deciding on a cost basis, try to compare locations and amenities, and consider length of stay when you do the math. This can be difficult if you will be travelling to a new location, or if the number of people in your family are of different ages.
3. Travel agent
Although you may know what you want, a travel agent can expand your options, giving you choices that you might not have known existed.
4. Optimise costs
Just because you have a certain amount of money you can spend, it doesn't mean you have to spend it. Instead, save where you can.
Set a spending limit before choosing your destination. Include hidden costs, such as snacks or phone calls. Cut out the unnecessary expenses. For example, if you plan on spending little time in your hotel room, should you really pay extra for that room with a view?
This can also help you plan for the next vacation by leaving with money left over when you return or, in some cases, before you ever begin.
5. Book well in advance
The sooner you can start preparing and buying the appropriate items, the more prepared you will be and the more money you will have when the vacation finally arrives. Booking in advance protects you from rate hikes. When you lock in the price, they can't raise it on you. You could save on airplane tickets. Given that there is a lot of competition it is the right time to tap the advantage of airline fares.
6. Shop around
Vacation packages are often a better deal than booking everything separately. Add-ons, such as sightseeing excursions, cost less than if purchased separately.
If you belong to a frequent-flyer programme, vacations are the perfect time to cash-in. Look into how many frequent-flyer miles you've earned and when they expire.
7. Choose payment method carefully
If you can afford to pay for your entire trip at once, do it. For travellers on a budget, paying in installments helps to ease the financial burden.
There are many banks, which provide a personal loan without any collateral. And, more importantly, with less burden on your EMIs and hardly any paperwork.
Using a credit card is another option, but make sure you can pay it off promptly and that the interest rate is competitive.
8. Pay the best way
Depending on your destination and length of stay, you will want to adjust the type and amount of currency you carry during your vacation. Cash is most risky to carry, but it provides unparalleled bargaining power. If you choose to use credit cards, make sure you keep a record of all the places you've used them.
A family vacation should be a time to unwind, forget your troubles and spend quality time with your family. However, an ill-prepared vacation can turn out to be something very different indeed. If you're ready for a worry-free vacation, there's no time like the present to plan ahead. Careful consideration and a clear plan of action will make your vacation a wonderful memory instead of a troubling financial burden.
Click here for more money saving tips.
The writer is head, financial planning, Sykes and Ray Equities.
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