Rein in runaway travel costs by following these seven practical money tips

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Labor Day weekend is quickly approaching, and many Oregonians are eager for one last summer hurrah before the seasons change. But soaring travel costs may spoil those plans. 

Americans taking at least one vacation this year plan to use cost-saving strategies to compensate, like traveling for fewer days, traveling a shorter distance or driving instead of flying. 

As the manager of OnPoint Community Credit Union’s Tigard Branch, I know firsthand how taking a trip can put a crimp in your budget. Make your travel dreams possible with these seven smart money tips to help maximize your travel budget and minimize surprise expenses.

1. Fine-tune your budget: 

Scrub your recurring expenses by analyzing your bank statements and credit cards to see where you can cut back. Consider canceling a streaming app or food delivery service (even temporarily) and diverting that money into an expanded travel budget. Saving $30 each month for three months could be enough to cover the increase in gas costs for a short road trip.

2. Book early or be flexible: 

According to Hopper, airfare costs should level off this month, but will rise again as we move into the fall and winter months. If you are flexible on dates and destinations, you can still find good deals. Book travel as early as possible and consider saving some money by taking a red-eye flight or extra layovers. 

3. Turn on a price tracker: 

Use a price tracker to receive notifications when ticket prices to your destination drop. Ensure you are getting a good deal by tracking the price of preferred flights. Google offers a 60-day history of flights, which can show if you are getting a good deal or not.

4. Make a food plan: 

The cost of meals and snacks can strain a travel budget, especially as food prices continue to rise. Plan time to buy snacks before you travel to avoid paying for premium-priced meals at the airport or on the airplane. If you can, book a rental or hotel with a full kitchen or kitchenette. Search for grocery stores near your rental home or hotel and stock up on easy ingredients and snacks. Try to prepare as many meals as possible from your home base. 

5. Gas up strategically: 

Download apps such as Gas Buddy or Gas Guru that will show you the prices at nearby gas stations so you can pick the least expensive option when you’re on the road. Try to avoid filling up right before a busy holiday weekend as some gas stations will raise their prices during those periods.

6. Know before you go: 

Does your bank charge a foreign transaction fee on credit and debit cards? Check the current foreign exchange rates before you buy, so you know how much that souvenir will cost you in U.S. dollars. Find out what tools your bank or credit union offers for travelers. OnPoint offers online tools that allow members to add their own travel notices, put a freeze on their credit card and find the closest ATM.

7. Take care of the basics: 

Before your departure, notify your financial institution that you will be leaving town so your card is not blocked due to unusual activity. Check with hotels, airlines or destinations to see if you will have internet access for online banking, and withdraw some cash in the currency of the country you plan to visit. By ensuring your financial resources are ready for travel, you’ll avoid unexpected, costly hassles. 

Need additional support creating a dedicated budget for travel, managing this era of inflation or answering any other financial questions? Stop by the Tigard Branch; our team would be happy to speak with you.

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