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Keeping the travel budget in check

Can you hear the ocean waves calling your name? Or are you looking forward to a nice staycation at home? Either way, one thing is for sure: finances play a major role in what our summer plans look like. Here are three financial tips to help keep your vacation plans – and pocketbook – in check this travel season!

1. Remember financial planning: Emergencies aren’t just a flat tire or lost luggage. Be sure to avoid a financial S.O.S. by planning for all the vacation expenses you can think of. Dining, hotels, gas, excursions, souvenirs and all the other extras quickly add up.

2. Stick to your budget: You’ve examined what all expenses are likely to occur; now, stick to your guns. It’s so easy to go overboard and “treat yourself” when away from your normal routine. To stay on track, consider choosing attractions that offer discounts on certain days or non-peak times or even offer free admission. If your budget is tight right now, look for adventures closer to home and start saving for that dream trip in the future.

3. Be flexible, if possible: There are major savings to be had if you’re willing to be flexible and do a little research. Do you have to travel during peak season? If not, traveling during off-peak times can lead to major savings. When booking a cruise, you can usually save money by making your reservation six months to a year in advance. Research where your hotel is located; can you select one within walking distance to popular attractions instead? Is public transportation available? Hotel alternatives are also becoming more and more common. Check out all the new lodging options that are available, like Airbnb and Home Away,  and see where you might cut costs. Or maybe choose a destination based on where you have family or friends who would let you stay.

Most importantly, enjoy that well-deserved time off. Whether you decide to hit the open road or just stay home and hit snooze, make the most of your time. Home or away, memories will be made, so soak it all in!

Emily Mays is vice president/chief administrative officer/senior marketing director at Community Spirit Bank in Red Bay, working in finance for 17 years. She is an enthusiastic social media marketer, financial literacy advocate and go local supporter. She lives in Russellville and has one daughter, Lola, 13.