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How To Plan A Summer Vacation That Won’t Put You Into Debt

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Long after you're out of your school years, there's still something about summertime that makes you crave a vacation. Perhaps it's because in so many parts of the world the weather is pretty idyllic or because it's the halfway mark of the year and therefore a perfect time to reward yourself for six months of hard work. But no matter the case for your desired getaway this season, there's no need to go into debt to satisfy your wanderlust — which can oftentimes be the case. Instead, by knowing how to plan a summer vacation the financially smart way, you can still create unforgettable memories while you're away — without coming back to a mountain-sized stack of bills.

In a recent study done by Credit Karma, half of the millennials and Gen Z-ers surveyed had gone into debt due to their summer travel spending. What's more, well over half of that amount didn't regret it, citing "you only live once" and "fear of missing out" as some of the primary reasons. And while millennials wouldn't take back their decision, you can't quite call their memories "priceless" — considering that 23 percent admitted to still be paying off the bills accrued from last summer’s vacation.

But it doesn't have to be that way. You can rack up memorable travel experiences without racking up the debt. And by examining the habits of those surveyed who didn't blow their budget on their last summer excursion, you can do the same. Ahead find some crucial money saving tips to heed when you're planning your own getaway, including what not to spend on and the smartest ways to pay.

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Create A Budget

Thirty-eight percent of millennials and Gen Z'ers polled credited their strict, in-place budget for staying on financial track while traveling. And while that might seem simple enough, it definitely requires some planning and diligence on your part. Simply put, figure out what you able to comfortably spend for a vacation (including accommodations, meals, shopping, transportation, and whatever other essentials you'll need) and don't stray from it.

Do Your Homework

Another 36 percent of the debt-free travelers surveyed admitted to having researched deals ahead of time. For example, try comprehensive sites like Kayak for cheap travel deals and scope out Airbnb options for cheapest places in any given city (in lieu of fancy hotels).

Curb Dining Out

To stay on budget, 31 percent said they cooked for themselves instead of dining out. If you want to partake in the local fare, set aside some of your budget for a few meals, then consider supplementing with meals you make or snacks you brought along.

Shack Up With A Friend

Accommodations can account for a major part of your travel budget, which is why 30 percent of the non-debters polled saved money by crashing with friends. If you're still seeking a destination, think about prioritizing places where you have a friend or family member who's happy to host you.

Be Flexible

You may only have certain days that you're able to take a break from work. However, having flexible travel dates is what helped 28 percent of those polled to stay on budget. Plan your next trip this way by selecting your window based on dips in airfare or hotel rates. Many sites also offer the option of signing up for alerts that email you when prices drop so you can act fast.

Use Your Rewards

Got a credit card that offers rewards? This is the perfect time to take advantage of them. In fact, that's how 28 percent of those surveyed managed to avoid going into debt. Don't have one yet? Be strategic about signing up for a card that will most benefit you, like one that offers free miles or gives your exclusive deals and make a conscious effort to use that one (while paying it off timely) to rake in the points.