Summertime, and the living is easy. But lose your head on those sun-soaked days, and you will live to regret it come autumn.
We all tend to relax a little more and have fun during summer months. And that’s OK. But when planning this year’s summer vacation, don’t make foolish moves that could potentially wash your budget away with the tide on some exotic beach.
Following are five costly summer travel mistakes — and how to avoid them.
1. Forgetting to keep track of your mail
Summer is the season of vacations. But before you leave for a week at a beach or 10 days at Yellowstone, don’t forget to take care of your mail delivery. Letting letters, magazines and miscellaneous ads pile up — even for just a few days — tells thieves you are not at home.
A home invasion — and all the valuables that disappear in the process — is a sure budget-buster. Plus, crooks also can steal your mail, and then use the personal information within it to steal your identity.
So, if you plan to be gone for long, don’t forget to ask a trusted neighbor to empty the mailbox and pick up any newspapers on the lawn. Or, place a hold on your mail with the U.S. Postal Service at your local post office until you return.
2. Getting careless with valuables at the beach
Few things say “summer” like a day at the beach. But before you frolic in the waves, don’t forget to secure your valuables, including keys, wallets and phones.
There are many approaches here. The simplest is to take along a waterproof bag that can house all of your belongings. It will keep them together in a single location, safe and dry. Or, you can get more elaborate, such as buying a waterproof case for your phone.
These things can protect your valuables from water, or keep them from being lost. But keeping them away from thieves is trickier.
A waterproof fanny pack like those sold by Aquapac allows you to keep valuables with you at all times. But you may wind up with a funky tan line.
If you’re hitting the beach with a group, perhaps just take turns watching over your stuff.
3. Traveling at peak times
Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day are the three big summer holidays. Most people have these days off — they’re all federal holidays — and it’s tempting to combine that day off with a few workplace vacation days and schedule a trip.
However, it might make more sense to travel at another time. Not only are your favorite attractions likely to be more crowded during those holidays, but costs also may be higher due to higher demand. According to IndependentTraveler.com:
“The crest of summer travel is from Memorial Day to Labor Day, during which fares to most U.S., Canadian and European destinations are at their peak. Three-day weekends around summer holidays like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July are particularly expensive times to fly.”
During summer, the kiddos have nothing but time on their hands. So, schedule a trip during a run-of-the-mill summer week or weekend when everything will be less crowded and, with any luck, cheaper. Or if you can hold off until the end of August, U.S. News & World Report notes you’ll find steeper discounts then.
4. Skipping your car’s pre-road trip checkup
The family summer road trip is an American tradition with a long and rich history. But before you hit the highway, it’s crucial to have an honest and qualified mechanic give your wheels the once-over.
Having your car road-ready can save you time and money. For example, properly inflating your tires can increase your gas mileage. And a mechanic who spots a problem that is just developing can save you from a costly — and potentially dangerous — highway breakdown.
Want to save even more money? Start here:
- “7 Car Maintenance Tips for Safe Summer Travel“
- “5 Simple Car Care Tips That Can Save You a Bundle of Money“
- “5 Ways to Slash the Cost of Gas“
5. Paying for insurance you don’t need
Worried that a summer storm could flood an area and ruin your vacation plans? If so, you might consider buying travel insurance to reimburse you for costs if you have to cancel vacation plans.
But before you buy this kind of coverage, make sure you don’t already have it. Your credit card might come with trip cancellation insurance, not to mention travel accident insurance or car rental insurance, among other valuable travel credit card benefits you might be ignoring.
Have you ever made summer travel mistakes that cost you? Share your story below or on our Facebook page.