Budget-Friendly Travel Tips

April 14, 2014 Editorial Staff
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(Family Features) With a winter that never seems to end, families are aching to enjoy some fun in the sun, turning their attention to a well-deserved getaway.

According to a recent Bank of America survey, 46 percent of Americans plan on hitting the road and organizing family-friendly vacations this year. But nearly half of these survey respondents, 48 percent, said the most difficult part of planning a trip is managing a budget.

Fun, Affordable VacationsTravel Channel host Samantha Brown has trekked the globe and is an ace at keeping costs low while maximizing adventure. She shares a few budget saving tips for the millions of Americans looking to take a family vacation and ensure lasting memories.

“When you start researching vacation destinations, it’s important to keep in mind that a good rewards card can help to offset travel costs,” Brown said. “I find that using credit cards like the BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card gives you great flexibility in how to use your points to cover travel expenses … more than just for flights. You can book your travel whenever, however you choose so there are no restrictions or blackouts.”

Using a rewards card and following these helpful travel tricks will guarantee an unforgettable family vacation that won’t break the budget:

Destination, Destination, DestinationThe majority of survey respondents said they are headed towards easy to access, family-friendly destinations like beaches, theme parks and zoos. They also said they are careful to steer clear of popular college party destinations. Sixty three percent of respondents said car trips are the preferred mode of travel because they are easier on the budget and also ensure that the vacation will be an adventure. Road trips are also ideal because travel schedules are more flexible; you can stay an extra night in a location, or if the weather is nice, consider camping or visiting public parks which are often more affordable. And don’t forget travel journals for each family member so they track the vacation and save memories.

Save on Lodging, Park Admission FeesFamilies are increasingly looking for ways to stretch the dollar, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that 36 percent of men and 47 percent of women agreed that costs are extremely important when planning a vacation. Half of the survey respondents agreed that hotels and lodging generally eat up most of the budget. Search for ways to save a bit of money in other places by being flexible with your dates or traveling to locations that are off the beaten path. You can also use rewards points you’ve already accumulated towards lodging or airfare expenses. Some travel rewards credit cards let you use your points to “pay yourself back” for any type of travel purchase such as flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars or baggage fees through a statement credit. You can even use your points to pay for theme park tickets and camp sites.

Plan Out Your ActivitiesOne of the best parts about a family vacation is getting the whole family involved in the travel planning process. Hold a family meeting about a month before your trip and have each member choose and plan an activity so everyone is invested in the family vacation. This will take all the responsibility off the parents’ shoulders and make travel easier. Challenge the family to plan activities that are unique to the area — those you wouldn’t be able to do in your hometown like surfing, mountain hiking or stargazing. These types of new and unique activities will create lasting memories and strengthen the bonds of family — which is what family vacations are all about. It’s also fun to choose activities that allow your children to see you acting like a kid. For example, go-cart racing, trampoline parks or eating ice cream sundaes for dinner are great ways for kids to see their parents lighten up and have a great time.

Have a Backup PlanWhenever you travel, you’re likely to experience missed connections, wrong turns, long lines or unexpected closings. One thing you can do to prepare for the unexpected is to create a plan A and plan B for your entire trip. Start two weeks in advance of your departure date by brainstorming with the whole family all of the possible routes, attractions, restaurants and hotels that you’d like to incorporate into your trip. Throughout the next two weeks, narrow down the list and create two plans for going to your destination and heading back home. In the event you run into any issues, you won’t have to waste time figuring out another option. Also, it’s always important to remember that your children may copy the way you react during a stressful situation. Travel is an ideal time to teach your kids coping skills and how to make the best of it.

Pay with Your CardMost families (77 percent) pay for purchases during vacations with credit cards. This not only minimizes the amount of cash or travelers checks you should carry, but it allows you to offset costs. Since most places accept credit cards, think about using a rewards card for big ticket expenses like gas, theme park admission and hotels. If you use a rewards credit card for those purchases, it frees up cash for smaller expenses and also accumulates points that you can use on your next vacation. Look for a card like the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card where you can earn 1.5 points for every dollar spent on purchases, every time. Then these points can be used to get a statement credit to cover your flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars or baggage fees.

For more information, visit www.bankofamerica.com/creditcard.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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