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Vacationing Without Debt Relief: Here’s How to Make a Plan

Summer is the time for minds to wander, considering possibilities for vacations and getting away from everyday routines. With warm weather and plenty of spending, it can also be tempting to let debt relief sit in the back seat for a few months.

For the average Canadian family needing help with debt, though, summer is an even more important time to ensure you’re planning what you’ll spend and where you’ll spend it. If you’re considering a vacation, it’s critical to leave with a budget in mind, and arm yourself with tools to stick to your plan while there.

Start with a budget worksheet

Going into vacation without a financial plan is an easy way to overrun your monthly budget. A 2015 BMO spending survey found that the average Canadian household doubles their monthly spending during the summer, regardless of whether they go away or not. Not having a plan leaves you open to temptation and making purchases that wouldn’t be wise if you were at home.

That’s why it’s important to start with a travel budgeting worksheet like this one from Practical Money Skills Canada. You can enter your expected spending for things like meals, flights, activities, and insurance, giving you a calculated amount to stay within for your whole trip.

Bring financial tools that are available quickly

When you’re travelling, convenience becomes even more important. You don’t want to be updating your spending on a daily basis, pulling out a budget spreadsheet on your laptop or something similar. That’s where money apps can really come in handy, especially those that will help you maintain your vacation budget.

The website How To Save Money has a list of 31 apps, products, and tools you should be using, with some paying special attention to convenience while on the road.

  • Spending Tracker allows you to track and monitor all your transactions from your phone, so you don’t need to physically bring a computer to log in to your credit card account.
  • If you’re travelling with friends or family, Splitwise makes it effortless to split the cost of meals, bus fares, or any other group transaction. This takes the pain out of the post-vacation prodding, as you can quickly reference whom you owe what amount of money.
  • If you’re okay with being last-minute, Hotel Tonight can save you money on accommodations at your destination. The app works directly with hotel chains to negotiate back end rates on unsold rooms.

Collect tips for saving money before you leave

There are plenty of well-known, or not-so-well-known, travel tips to use while you’re away. Slice has a list of 15 that you can use from expert credit counselling, including that you should exchange money ahead of time when going to the U.S. or overseas. Changing money at airports can come with an especially high transaction fee, and you should always know what currency conversion rate your credit card has before using it in a foreign country. These can add 3-4% onto every purchase, which can provide some sticker shock when you return home.

There are other tips too, like exploring on foot instead of grabbing taxis, opting out of a cell phone travel plan and using available Wi-Fi, and being flexible for changes if the financial need comes up.

By making all these preparations ahead of time, you’ll be well-equipped to take a vacation that doesn’t overrun your initial budget. This allows you to continue making debt relief payments, even while you’re away, and ensure that going away doesn’t mean getting set back financially.

Have a tool to share for vacationers looking to stick to a budget? Join the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #BudgetTravel and #DebtSolutions.

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