Financial Tip of the Week from the Iowa Bankers Association:
As the school year ends and the heat and humidity continue to rise, many Iowans are gearing up for this summer's family vacation. Mountains or beach, on the road or in the air, there are steps you can take to save money this summer. So before you book your family's tickets, consider these tips to help you travel on a budget.
· Plan ahead. Many deal-seekers mistakenly believe the best discounts are offered at the last minute. While some hotels and airlines do offer last-minute travel deals, they aren't guaranteed. You're much better off to begin tracking airline, rental car and hotel websites early so you can confidently book them when prices are low.
· Fly frugally. Not only should you compare airlines and departure cities to find the best ticket prices, but you should also consider additional fees. Pack lightly and use carry-on luggage to minimize the number of bags you have to check, as each checked bag will add to the cost of flying. Avoid buying food and other items at the airport, as prices are generally higher. If possible, eat before heading to the airport.
· Be flexible with your itinerary. Experiment with travel dates and times to find the least expensive combination. Did you know—for instance—that it's typically less expensive to fly on Wednesdays than Fridays? Remember that hotels are likely to fill up quicker and charge higher rates during special occasions such as business conventions or popular sporting events. If you're mainly planning to sightsee, avoid dates when major events are happening at your destination.
· Use travel websites. Many travel websites offer discounts on vacation packages. However, you're not guaranteed the lowest prices, and if you only need a hotel or plane tickets and not an entire package, you may be better off buying them directly. It always pays to shop around.
· Look for continental breakfasts and other freebies. A good portion of everyone's travel budget goes to food. When booking a hotel, opt for one that offers a free continental breakfast and other incentives. Paying for one less meal per day can add up over the course of a week.
· Pack coupons and food. As food prices rise, so does the cost of eating out. Many eateries—even high-end ones—are stepping up promotions to keep business flowing. Take advantage of special deals offered in newspapers and on coupon websites and incorporate them into your travel plans. If possible, pack your own food or shop at a grocery store when you arrive to save money by preparing some of your own meals.
· Tune up your car. If you'll be taking to the open road this summer, the easiest way to save money is to save gas. Before you leave town, have your car tuned up and make sure your tires are properly inflated. While traveling, drive sensibly and observe the speed limit. Taking these steps will help you get more miles per gallon. Also, some websites offer a free app that you can download to your smart phone to find the lowest pump prices in your area.
These tips are provided by the Iowa Bankers Association (IBA), representing banks and thrifts in the state. The IBA serves it members by providing legislative advocacy, training, regulatory compliance and other services designed to enhance the ability of banks to serve their communities. Learn more at www.iowabankers.com.