how to travel on a budget

How to Travel on a Budget

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Yes, it’s that time of year again – kids are crossing the finish line of school, summer break is peeking around the corner, and everyone is ready for a change of scenery. If you’re worried that a fun, relaxing vacation might be out of reach this summer, we’ll give you some ideas for how to travel on a budget and plan a trip you can afford while still having fun and, hopefully, relaxing.

What Is the Average Cost of a Vacation

If you look around long enough, you’ll see there are varying estimates for the average cost of a one-week domestic vacation. You can probably expect to spend between $1,500-$1,900 per person. Of course, if you road trip and camp, you’ll spend less than if you fly and stay in hotels. 

The average cost of a four-night stay is $160 for a campsite, about $550 for a vacation rental, and around $820 for a hotel stay.

As you can imagine, international destinations are more expensive than U.S.-based vacations – unless, maybe, you plan a Disney World Resort trip with all the bells and whistles. A round-trip flight to Europe costs about $500 more than a round-trip domestic flight, and you can probably expect a one-week trip to cost about $4,000 per person.

Entertainment, of course, is a big factor in vacation budgets. You’ll spend more by hitting up amusement parks and ski resorts than hiking national parks or swimming at public (free) beaches. 

The average cost of visiting a national park is $35 per vehicle and the average cost of an amusement park can be anywhere from $60 to over $200 per day per person.

When it comes to food and drink, you can obviously go big or go small, but the average, per-day, per-person cost of food you can budget for is about $50 – not including alcoholic drinks.

How to Travel on a Budget: Tips and Savings

Wondering how to save smart for your next big trip? The financial standard for allocating your income is 50% for living expenses, 30% for things that you want, and 20% for savings. 

But when it comes to saving for travel specifically, the general consensus is that you should set aside 5%-10% of your yearly net income for vacation plans. So, if you have a net income of $40,000, that comes out to approximately $170-$335 per month.

Our Holiday Club Accounts are perfect for this type of regular saving, and you can earn a premium dividend rate on your balance. With direct deposit and no monthly maintenance fee (with a balance of at least $5), you can easily save up for your ideal destination.

As we know, however, life often gets in the way of your lofty budget and savings goals. Unforeseen events like accidents, a family member who needs help, or rising inflation can all bring that travel-savings number down. So, here are some ways to save money and still take the vacation of your dreams.

How to Plan a Trip Without Breaking the Bank

Set a Vacation Budget

Wherever you’re going, it’s worth planning what activities you want to do and sights you want to see. You probably can’t fit everything into one trip, so pick and choose ones that are free or more reasonably priced and trim down the ones that are more pricey.

You should also check out travel guides, blogs, and vlogs for experienced advice on what to do, where to stay, and what you can skip. You can probably learn all about great places to go, stay, and eat at without overspending.

Travel in the Off-Season

Flights and accommodations are always a little cheaper when the location is in its off-season.  Plan your trip outside peak times, and your budget will thank you.

Pack Wisely

Make sure you pack for your entire stay and the typical weather – and maybe pack something extra in case you’re in for a little climate surprise. Having to spend money on emergency purchases doesn’t help the budget situation – and it can quickly get expensive, especially if you’re staying at a resort.

Make a packing list and check it twice before you’re out the door and off on your adventure.

Explore New Accommodation Options

You may be past your hostel days – which is a great, budget-friendly option, but there are other affordable choices you can explore outside of the traditional hotel or even AirBnB/VRBO.

You can try using Couchsurfing to book a room in a local’s home, or you browse home exchange sites like Home Exchange or Love Home Swap for people interested in switching houses or apartments.

Plan a Summer to Remember With a Low-Rate Vacation Loan

If you’ve got your heart set on a dream vacation or you’ve already made plans and reservations but can see you’re coming up short, don’t start running up your high-interest credit cards. We have a budget-friendly solution for you.

Police FCU vacation loans are special, personal loans that offer lower rates than traditional credit cards and bank loans. Right now, we’re offering them with 6.49% APR* through August 31, 2023.

Our personal loans also come with no origination fees or prepayment penalties, and our application process is quick and easy.

Another great option is opening a Police FCU Benefits Plus® Checking account with us. It offers so many benefits including ScoreCard Debit Rewards, overdraft protection, a premium dividend rate – and discounts on entertainment, dining, and travel! 

So, pack smart, budget smart, bank smart, and take the summer vacation you and your family truly deserve.



*APR= Annual Percentage Rate, which is subject to change without notice. Rate based on applicant(s) credit history. Your rate may vary. The advertised rate reflects financing for up to a 24-month term, includes an exclusive 1.00% Vacation Loan discount plus a 1.00% cumulative rate reduction with the Loan Rate Discount Program, which offers a 0.20% rate reduction per eligible discount, (up to 1.00% cumulative) for Direct Deposit, Automatic Loan Payments, Law Enforcement Retiree, NEW PFCU Visa Credit Card, NEW Member Sponsorship, Electric or Hybrid Vehicle Loan. NEW Certificate of Deposit ($5,000 minimum, 24 month or > term), or PFCU Real Estate Loan. Loan amount, repayment term and interest rate based on credit qualification. Other restrictions may apply. Loan Example: On a $5,000 Vacation Loan at 6.49% APR for 24 months, your approximate monthly payment= $222.59. Other rates and terms available.


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