Whether it's drinking in the sunshine on the beach, floating on a cruise to a tropical island, or climbing the highest mountain, you can find a vacation that doesn't break your pocketbook if you follow the five simple financing steps that are recommended by money managers and travel experts:1. Think Packages "Most airlines offer substantial discounts when you purchase air and hotel packages together," says Sherrin Ross Ingram, president of the International Center for Strategic Planning in Hinsdale, Ill. "More discounts may be available if you include car rentals and tours in your package as well. If you're driving to your destination, consult hotels for any restaurant or activity packages they offer and visit your destination's official Web site," she says. "For low-cost activity ideas, check the convention and tourism bureau Web site." Although package deal prices may appear more costly, when comparing each price individually, the sum total is usually less expensive, especially if it includes meal and admissions.2. Use a 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. "Utilizing a travel agent will not only save you time and money, it will ensure that you get exactly what you are looking for and get the very best value for your money," says Nina Meyer, director of Leisure South Florida/Vacation Clubs with TraveLeaders. "We [travel agents] have such a vast resource field and extensive capabilities that are not available on a machine or Internet service, especially if you get into a bind."
3. Prepay Your Vacation
Various experts believe that you should start saving for your vacation as soon as possible. "If you plan to take a family vacation, now is the time to organize your trip," urges the nonprofit Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE), a San Diego-based group. "Advance planning is particularly important if you have a tight budget."
Anise Lowe, a Chicago executive who takes an annual vacation during the summer, budgets for her vacation out of each paycheck. "Much like you treat a monthly expense, pay for your vacation a little each month and you will be amazed at how quickly you save. The sooner you start, the less you'll have to pay each month," she says. "I start saving for my next vacation as soon as I'm back from the last one."
4. 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 plan to shop in certain countries," says Ingram, author of Wealth Mentality: Program Yourself to Get and Keep the Wealth You Want (Jourdan & Brown, 2002). "If you choose to use credit cards, make sure you have fraud protection, periodically check to make sure you still have your cards, and keep a record of all the places you've used them."
To protect your cash and your credit cards, travel experts suggest that travelers make copies of important identifying documents, convert the copies to PDF documents, and e-mail them to an accessible e-mail account.5. Use the Internet Sign up for promotional e-mails with several airlines, hotels and travel sites, including expedia.com, travelocity.com, priceline.com, biztravel.com, previewtravel.com, thetrip.com, cheaptickets.com or luxurylink.com, so that you'll receive notice when there are promotions regarding your intended vacation spot.So, before you pack your bags for that summer getaway, let your dollars lead you to that dream destination. Your much-anticipated vacation of a lifetime is just around the corner!Copyright Johnson Publishing Company May 2004
Source: Money & Work