Vacation expenses you should not forget

When traveling, it's important to plan ahead to avoid unaccounted for costs.

In 2015, nearly 79 percent (4 out of 5) domestic trips were for leisure purposes and generated $99.6 billion in tax revenue according to the U. S. Travel Association. Summer has arrived, the kids are out of school and it’s often vacation time for families. When planning a vacation, it is important to consider other finances besides travel, food, and lodging. According to the U. S. Travel Association, the top five leisure travel activities for U.S. domestic travelers are: visiting relatives, shopping, visiting friends, fine dining and beaches.

All of these activities may include expenses that travelers have not considered. Some expenses that vacationers forget to include in their budget are tips, souvenirs, tolls, and parking. Vacationers often include meals as a part of vacation expenses, but do not include tips for meals in that calculation. In addition to meal tips, tips for assistance with luggage at the airport and/or at the hotel and tips for valet should be included as well. Souvenirs can sometimes be expensive as well when on vacation. Do you have a list of family and friends that you plan on buying souvenirs? You can make a list and include it in your vacation budget. Another forgotten expense when driving on vacation are tolls, which can become costly. It is important to plan your route and factor in tolls. Parking is also an overlooked expense. If renting a car, it is important to include parking costs at the hotel, theme park/entertainment venue, and restaurant. Often these neglected expenses can add up to a few hundred dollars and create more debt if not included in your original vacation budget.

Additionally, it is important to be safe when planning and while on vacation. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers the following tips for safe travel:

  • Get travel recommendations from family and friends
  • Call to verify your reservations and arrangements
  • Get a copy of a company’s cancellation and refund policies before you pay for the trip, and ask questions if not clear
  • Pay with a credit card, not a debit card
  • Ask about mandatory hotel “resort fees”
  • Ask questions before joining a travel club

Effective planning can help cut costs and allow for an enjoyable vacation. Michigan State University Extension offers financial literacy and homeownership workshops throughout the year to help you become financially healthy and learn more about the home buying process. For more information about classes in your area, visit MSU Extension Events or MIMoneyHealth. Take the Financial Health Survey at MI Money Health to access if you’re financially healthy and discover more ways you can improve your financial health.

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