Traveling Smart This Summer

Don’t let money troubles put a damper on your vacation.

Summer is the time to travel for most American families. In fact, a study by Chase Ultimate Rewards found 4 out of 5 households (83%) plan to take some kind of trip this summer. Interestingly enough, a separate study by Bridgestone found most Americans (almost 90%) are opting for a summer road trip instead of taking a flight to some faraway destination.

While the Bridgestone survey found nearly one in five took that trip this past weekend for the 4th, the other 82% of road trippers haven’t set off yet… and they might want to take note of some key financial findings from both studies if they want to keep the peace during those trips.

Getaway Lesson 1: Money woes causes the most fights

One key finding of the Chase study is that how money gets spent on a vacation is the number one cause of conflict when families get away – even more than arguments over technology use or fights over what everyone wants to do each day.

  • 41% disagree about money being spent
  • 37% disagree about technology use
  • 36% disagree about daily activities

Of course, the Chase survey also finds most people blame their spouse for overspending on a getaway – 1 in 4 women AND men say their significant other is the big spender, while only 9% of men and 6% of women fess up that it’s actually them.

Still, both men (49%) and women (58%) believe they get the most bang for their vacation bucks when they plan ahead. That’s good news, considering the Bridgestone poll reveals the average family saves about $1,000 per person ahead of a summer road trip.

That could be a big financial burden if you have a family of four and haven’t started saving yet for your summer trip. You can cut discretionary expenses out of your budget to maximize the cash you have available to save up, but with only 9 weekends left until Labor Day on September 7th, that would mean saving almost $450 per week until the end of summer.

Luckily $1,000 per person may be overestimating cost depending on where you actually plan to go and what you want to do. For instance, the Bridgestone survey found 46% of travelers are heading out to visit family and friends. If you’re staying at their house, that eliminates the cost of accommodations, which is commonly the biggest expense for a family road trip.

So instead of saving up for a rough ballpark figure, price out your trip as exactly as possible and put in as much planning as you can to make you savings target accurate. You can use Consolidated Credit’s Vacation Budgeting Guide to help you find ways to reduce costs on your trip to make it more affordable. This will make it easier to figure out how much you need to save ahead of time, as well as making it easier to actually meet that target.

Getaway Lesson 2: Cut trip costs and vehicle hassle ahead of time

Another way to save money and aggravation on your summer road trip is to get your vehicle ready ahead of time. Bridgestone found the 94% of families who do basic maintenance only spent an average of $127 get the family vehicle ready for the trip.

  • 72% check fluids
  • 70% check tire pressure
  • 59% change the oil

That’s important because two out of the three maintenance actions above (tire pressure and oil) are directly related to fuel efficiency which, in turn, has a significant impact on your trip cost. Beyond avoiding the expense of towing and car repair if your vehicle breaks down on the road, there’s a big correlation between how fuel-efficient your car is and how much you pay for transportation.

By changing the oil in your car, checking tire pressure and taking other steps we’ve gathered in Consolidated Credit’s Cutting Car Cost Guide, you can stretch your fuel farther, which means less money to fill up. Considering family vacations usually add weight to your car with lots of luggage, you have to take as many of the other steps listed in the guide to offset the fuel efficiency loss you can expect to have from the extra weight of your luggage.

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April Lewis-Parks
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