Vacationing with inflation: tips for traveling on a budget

Family walking through airport with carry on suitcase

As we head into warmer months, dreams of sandy beaches or European adventures are starting to fill many of our heads. Spring break is on the horizon, and summer will be here before we know it. But with inflation at a high, you may be wondering if a vacation is even possible. The good news—YES! While it may take a little more planning, your (well-deserved) vacation can still go off without a hitch. Keep reading for our tips on how to have your best vacation while battling inflation.

Plan ahead

While inflation is driving up prices across the U.S., the same is true abroad. On top of that, pent-up travel demand from the COVID-19 pandemic is still propelling travel bookings. This makes planning ahead to lock in lower rates a key to managing costs.

The other benefit to planning ahead is flexible travel bookings. These can typically be canceled and rebooked should the prices drop. Be sure to read through the fine print and avoid bookings that carry restrictions or other limitations. For example, airfare refunds are usually issued as vouchers or travel credits as opposed to cash.

Do your research

Another key part of your planning should be a review of pricing trends. Nerdwallet compared the prices of flights, lodging, and rental cars with their pre-pandemic data points. While airfare has increased overall, prices on flights have started to fall again. Meanwhile, the price of renting a car has skyrocketed, as has the price of eating out.

Keeping these factors in mind can help you decide how and where you want to spend your money. If you’re flying and have some flexibility, you may consider flying on a weekday. A hotel room with a full kitchen may not usually be cost-effective, but could be this year, while visiting somewhere with good public transportation can help you avoid those high rental car prices.

Set realistic budgets

Once you have a plan in mind, and an idea of cost, it’s time to set a budget. According to a recent Forbes survey, 45% of respondents are allowing for a higher travel budget in 2023 than they spent in 2022. But a little more than a quarter of respondents (28%) said their budgets would remain about the same this year.

To help with planning, many travel sites publish average budgets. But just like budgeting in general, your vacation budget is largely dependent on your personal preferences. For example, do you prefer to fly first class when traveling overseas, or are you taking comfortable with budget carriers? Take stock of your preferences and plan accordingly. You may also want to review your past vacation budgets and adjust for inflation.

Consider a credit card with rewards

While inflation is affecting most things, it hasn’t impacted everything. As travel has become more expensive, the per-point value for most credit card reward programs actually went up in 2022. This means the redemption costs of points and miles are deflating while cash prices inflate.

And the more travel rewards you have, the more options you’ll have for traveling in 2023. A survey by Hyatt showed that more than half of respondents said they’d change their travel plans to earn or redeem points. Saving up reward points can earn you free flights and hotel stays for your dream vacation.

Additionally, some cards offer even more perks for traveling, like travel insurance and reimbursements toward CLEAR, Global Entry, or TSA Precheck, which can save you both money and time during traveling.

Don’t forget– Georgia’s Own Visa Signature, Platinum, and Student Visa cards offer travel and emergency assistance and trip cancellation/interruption reimbursement when you book travel with those cards.

Key takeaways

While everything is more expensive with inflation, there are still ways to plan an affordable vacation in 2023

  • Plan ahead so you can lock in the best rates with flexible options.
  • Pay attention to trends in prices and book what makes sense for you.
  • Consider a Rewards credit card to help you earn more.

Despite the rise in inflation, that same Forbes study found that there is still a big push to travel in 2023. The majority of survey respondents expect to travel at least as much as they did in the prior year, with 49% selecting that they expect to travel more.

Unfortunately, many of the recent travel challenges are expected to continue well into 2023, including crowds, high prices, and flight disruptions. Mishaps while traveling are never entirely unavoidable, but utilizing the above tips can help make your next trip easier.

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