Financial Education Blog

Vacation Countdown: Budgeting for summer travel

Are sunny skies and warm temperatures tempting you to getaway? You’re not alone; the research group The Conference Board reported that 63.5 percent of Americans plan to vacation in 2018. No matter your summer vacation destination, there’s one important – albeit unenjoyable- thing to remember: your vacation budget. It’s not fun, but it can help you stick to your financial goals. Here are a few considerations to help you create your own vacation budget template.

Before you start

No matter where you decide to go, research major events at your destination, like marathons, music festivals, peak travel season and holidays. Any or all of these can impact the cost and availability of airfare, lodging and even parking when you arrive, which can limit your dollar. Also, if you’re a Benefits Plus account holder at 7 17 Credit Union, don’t forget to take advantage of their travel services once you cement your summer vacation ideas.

How are you getting there?

If you need an airline ticket, plan in advance … just not too far in advance. According to a study by, the prime booking window for most domestic flights is approximately three weeks to three-and-a-half months out. The same is true for most European flights. If you’re checking bags, don’t forget baggage fees! Parking costs at the airport should also be considered if you don’t have a friend or ride-sharing service that can drop you off at your gate. Will you need transportation once you’re at your destination? Investigate the cost to rent a car versus a ride-sharing service or public transportation for your travel around town. 

With gas prices rising – the summer of 2018 is projected to have the highest since 2014 – calculate your mileage to know how often you’ll have to fill your tank. Remember that your fuel efficiency might be impacted by overhead cargo or bike racks attached to your vehicle. Traveling the turnpike? Don’t forget to check sites like to calculate tolls in advance.

Where are you staying?

If you need more space because it’s a family vacation or you’re traveling with multiple friends, consider a peer-to-peer home-sharing option like Airbnb. You can split the costs among the group, stay in the heart of some fantastic neighborhoods and often get discounts for a week’s stay or longer. Not to mention, having a kitchen helps cut down on food costs if you make a meal or two throughout your stay.

Traveling with a smaller group? A hotel might be your better bet. Make sure to comparison shop online and contact the hotel directly to see if they offer rate discounts for club memberships like AAA. When budgeting, factor in parking and tips for housekeeping services, bellmen and valets.

Where are you going to eat?

Food can add up, especially when you’re heading out of town. Check the food scene ahead of time with a quick Google search of the area. Once you get a few places that interest you, review their menus and pricing ahead of time and even set up a few reservations. Not only can you craft a more accurate dining budget, you won’t waste your vacation waiting forever for tables.

If you’re planning to hit the beach, a zoo or an amusement park, bring in some snacks, if you’re allowed, so that you don’t go hungry or pay exorbitant vendor costs. 

Your daily budget

Once you’ve done your research, you can break down your daily costs. Factor in shopping, whether for you or for souvenirs for friends and family, as well as museum or other recreation costs you might have. Whether you track it through your credit card app after each purchase or use an envelope with a cash allowance each day, creating a daily budget can help you keep your costs at a minimum and avoid the heartache of spending more than you can afford.

Start saving!

Break your whole cost down by how much you can save and when, whether that’s every paycheck, every month or every day, in order to get to your goal. Set up automatic transfers to your savings account so that you don’t have to think about where your money is going. You might even want to consider opening a separate Vacation Club account so that you aren’t tempted to use your emergency savings for vacation and vice versa.

For a more in-depth look at Vacation Budgeting, please visit: Once you proceed to the KOFE site, select publications from the KOFE Table drop-down menu. 7 17 has partnered with KOFE (Knowledge of Financial Education) to provide free financial education tools to help support members’ long-term financial health. Resources include publications, videos and more. Plus, you have free access to financial coaches, seven days a week!