Start planning early. In fact, plan all year long.
About 8% of your total annual budget should go toward leisure activities, which of course includes vacations. You can plan for more or less depending on what you have going on that year. To help you save, create an account specifically for vacation savings and contribute to that account each month religiously. Eagle Community Credit Union (Eagle) has an awesome Vacation Club account to help you do just that. Choose from any number of savings accounts that work for you: https://www.eaglecu.org/savings. Just make sure your money is liquid so you can access it when the travel bug bites.
Create a daily cash allowance.
Once you’ve figured out your basic costs for lodging and transportation, you’ll need to figure out what you want to do when you get there (think about food, drinks, shopping and any tours or activities you’d like to do). Then set aside that money in a separate envelope for each day you’ll be at your destination. Label the envelopes and tuck them in your hotel safe or other secure place.
Be smart about your credit cards.
Call Eagle ahead of time to ask us about specific foreign transactions fees (if any) and to let us know you’ll be traveling to another country or state so we don’t think someone stole your card.
Use your Eagle Rewards Credit Card to purchase airfare, lodging, gifts, etc. and earn some serious points to pay for your next trip. Check out our rewards card here: https://www.eaglecu.org/CreditCards
Bonus Insider tip: you can get better foreign exchange rates at a local bank (at your destination) than at a commercial exchange counter. Just use the ATM there to do the exchange. Easy.
Eat like a local.
Hotel restaurants are significantly higher priced than eating at local cafes and restaurants, so get out there and explore. Avoid the touristy feed spots and seek out a local eatery in a residential area, chances are that the food is better, authentic and priced affordably. Yelp is a great tool to seek out local eats.
Sleep where the locals sleep.
Scour for great deals on websites like homeaway.com and airbnb.com, sometimes at much cheaper rates than hotels. Usually nestled away in residential neighborhoods, the owners can give you tips on where to eat and shop that will save you tons. Lodging that includes a kitchen or kitchenette makes it a snap to prepare your own food or bring home leftovers for lunch the next day.
Leave room in your bag.
Don’t pack your bag to the seams because you risk getting charged for weight restriction on the extra items you bring home with you, or having to buy another bag to carry those extra items. Leave some room in your bag for trinkets, gifts, clothes and other items. You’ll be happy you did.
So start saving, and get out there and enjoy the world (within reason of course)!
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