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Tips for Saving Money on Travel and Cruise Vacations

Money Girl offers advice for taking a debt-free vacation and buying travel insurance, and reveals 7 tips to save money on a cruise vacation--like her recent trip to Alaska.

By
Laura Adams, MBA,
August 13, 2014
Episode #366

Page 1 of 3

Taking a vacation from work is one of the best ways to have a happier and healthier life. Studies show that time off reduces stress, improves relationships, and allows you to refocus on your priorities. 

But taking a vacation can also be expensive, and leave you with a pile of debt, if you’re not careful. In this episode, I’ll discuss how to plan a debt-free vacation that will benefit your mind, and your bank account.

Plus, I’ll tell you about my recent trip to Alaska, and give you 7 cruise tips that saved me a boatload on that amazing trip.

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Don’t Squander Your Paid Vacation Time

You’d think that employees with vacation benefits would consider themselves crazy not to take advantage of paid time off, known as PTO. But a recent survey found that 4 out of 10 U.S. workers finished 2013 with unused PTO!

Employees only used 84% of their vacation benefit, leaving an average of 3.2 days on the table. That’s a total of 429 million potential vacation days that we squandered in 2013.

No matter your workload, make it a goal to take every one of your vacation days. Your time is valuable—so, even if you don’t use PTO for a luxury trip, use it wisely.

For instance, you could use a PTO to take a Personal Money Day, knock out an annual doctor or and dentist visit, meet with a financial advisor, or do volunteer work.

How to Plan a Debt-Free Vacation

But what if you want to go on a real vacation? According to Howard Dvorkin, CPA and personal finance author from Debt.com, there are 3 easy steps to planning a debt-free vacation:

Step #1: Choose an economical destination

Choosing where to go is the most important part of vacation planning, because prices will vary considerably depending on where you live. For instance, if you live in Florida, flying to Puerto Rico in the fall or winter could cost less than $175. On the other hand, the average ticket from New York or Chicago to Puerto Rico is about $229 or $279. Saving just $100 per ticket for a family of 4 will really add up.

Step #2: Book early and off-season

When it comes to buying airfare, travel experts say the sweet spot is 2 months before you want to travel. If you can fly during the middle of the week and middle of the day (as opposed to during rush hours), you’ll also generally get a better deal.

Off-season flights and hotel reservations are always less expensive, so vacation during those times when possible. Likewise, prices go up during major holidays—so consider flying during non-peak times, such as a few days before or after a holiday weekend.

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