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Today's Life Solutions  
Today's Life Solutions / Travel / ARA Content

Setting and sticking to your holiday travel budget

December 1, 2009

(ARA) - Holiday travel season is just around the corner. 'Tis the season when the joy of traveling to see friends and family is all too often hampered by the challenge of trying to keep a handle on holiday season finances.

Travel can be one of the biggest-ticket items on your holiday list, so it's worth it to plan ahead. Setting a budget - and sticking to it - can help you stay in better control of holiday spending. According to a recent Visa survey, a majority (54 percent) of this year's summer travelers either didn't set a budget or overspent their budget while traveling, and more than a quarter of those surveyed overspent by more than $250. To make sure this doesn't happen to you, it's important to create a realistic holiday travel budget and make a plan for how you will spend within your means while on the road.

To create a budget, think through your trip. First, include the basics such as transportation to and from your destination, and lodging. Next, plan for expenses that come up along the way such as meals on the road, host/hostess gifts, rental cars or public transportation. Don't forget to include entertainment - whether sightseeing, sleigh riding or going to the movies. It's also a good idea to build in a cushion for the unexpected.

Once you've set your holiday travel budget, you need to stick to it. One tool that can help is a prepaid travel card. A prepaid card draws from funds that are set aside in advance for purchases. Here are a few ways prepaid travel cards can come in handy:

* Keep travel funds separate. An easy way to make sure you don't go over budget is to set your travel budget aside on a prepaid travel card. Simply load the card with your travel budget, and use it for everything from online booking to grabbing lunch during an (unexpectedly extended) layover without worrying about spending more than you planned or dipping into gift-buying funds.

* Access cash. Whether you need a few dollars or several yen, choose a prepaid card that will allow you to withdraw cash from ATMs around the world. If you're travelling internationally, it'll also save you the hassle of tracking down and waiting in line for local currency.

* Browse and buy. Look for a prepaid card that you can use online. Travel sites offer a wealth of information and detailed listings of competing offers from airlines and hotels as well as reviews from fellow travelers. For flights, you can typically compare possible savings by traveling on alternate days or from nearby airports. Once you spot the deal that works for your budget, use your prepaid travel card to snap it up.

* Enjoy peace of mind when traveling. Prepaid cards may come with travel-related services. For example, the Visa TravelMoney card offers Zero Liability for lost or stolen cards as well as lost luggage reimbursement and purchase security. Make sure you know which benefits your card offers and how they work so you can tap into them should the need arise.

With some advance preparation and the right tools in place, you don't have to overspend on travel this holiday season. In fact, with some careful planning, you could end up with enough left to buy yourself a little something during the post-holiday sales. For more information about Visa TravelMoney, visit: www.visa.com/travelmoney.

Courtesy of ARAcontent
 
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