Trilliums in Northern Ontario
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Credit Counseling with the Sudbury Community Service Centre

The Hidden Costs of Summer Vacation

Have you ever experienced “holiday hangover?” It’s the sinking feeling you might get a few weeks after your summer vacation if one of the things that you have relaxed is your spending control. Unlike the effects of other overindulgence, holiday hangover probably won’t affect you “the morning after”. It tends to kick in with the arrival of the first post-vacation credit card bill – usually about the same time your tan starts to fade.

With careful planning, however, it is possible to avoid those unpleasant post-holiday surprises. “The first map to pull out for any holiday, is the financial plan”, says Linda Morel, Executive Director of the Sudbury Community Service Centre. “The key to determining what kind of a vacation you can afford means adding up all the costs – and many are hidden”. You may have a rough idea of the costs of this summer’s holiday, but you should also make sure to consider some of these not-so-apparent expenses:

  • When traveling by car, don’t forget to include the costs of gasoline, meals and accommodation en route. Remember that in some locations, you pay more per liter for your gasoline when you buy it on credit. As well, gasoline prices can fluctuate drastically from area to area. As for those rest and refreshment stops, taking a cooler along with your own snacks and drinks can help you minimize the cost along the way.

  • Air travel includes not only your fare, but also insurance, taxes, and transport to and from the airport. One way to keep the down the cost of transportation from your home is to ask a friend to drive you. You could pay someone you trust as well. They will often be happy to earn extra cash, and it will likely be much less than the cost of a limo or taxi or leaving your car at a park and fly depot.

  • Hotel rooms are subject to considerable taxes, and often charge extra for parking. Make sure you include the full cost of accommodation in your budget. Look at the location of attractions you want to visit, relative to your hotel. It may make sense to stay a little further away and pay less for our accommodation. Also, don’t forget to ask about discount rates to which you may be entitled.

  • Do some research on the cost of attractions you want to visit and budget accordingly. Find out what free events will take place while you are in town. Tourist boards for many cities will often provide coupons for specific attractions which can provide savings. You should also include in your budget a set amount for souvenirs and gifts.

  • Remember the cost of money, particularly if you are travelling outside of Canada. Exchange rates are only one part of the equation. There can be costs associated with purchasing travelers’ cheques and there are often significant fees to cash the cheques if they are in a foreign currency. As well, you should be aware of the costs of using ATMs and Interac while abroad.

  • Don’t neglect the cost of maintaining your home while you are away. Calculate the cost of boarding your pets and maintaining your garden, etc. into your vacation budget. Remember too, your whole paycheck can’t be dedicated to your holiday. Utility bills, mortgage or rent, insurance and taxes are among the many expenses that don’t take a break.

  • You don’t always have to travel a distance to have a great vacation. Your own city or region may offer many no or low cost attractions within driving distance. As well, involve the whole family in your plan. You may be surprised to find out that the things your children really want to do aren’t that expensive.

  • One of the best ways to have the vacation you really want without negative financial after-effects is to plan all year long”, says Linda Morel. “Know what you want to do, research what the real costs are and, if it appears to be achievable, develop a savings plan to set aside enough money to pay for the holiday when the time comes.”

 

 

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