These five mistakes could blow your vacation travel budget

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You might have the perfect vacation travel plan.

Yet one misstep and your carefully crafted budget could fly out the window.

“The holidays are a very busy time and there is already so much to do – from checking wishlists to holiday duties,” said Alexis Tiacoh, spokesperson for Expedia. “This means that many travelers will not have the time to sit down and research the best flight and hotel deals.”

Travelers plan to spend billions this holiday season on travel, according to the Nerdwallet website. Forty-five percent of Americans, some 114 million adults, expect to spend an average of $ 1,393 on flights and / or hotels during the holidays, according to the personal finance website survey and The Harris Poll.

With the added expense of entertainment and gift shopping, it’s important to have a budget first and then stick to it.

“A lot of times people just start planning without budgeting,” AAA spokeswoman Julie Hall said.

“Take the time to do it up front.”

Here are the most common mistakes to avoid so as not to blow your budget.

Booking too early or too late

You may know your vacation plans well in advance, but booking your flight too early could cost you money.

People “assume that by booking early they can have both peace of mind and savings, but our data shows that booking six months or more from the date of departure can be quite an expensive proposition for them. travelers, “said Vivek Pandya, senior analyst for Adobe. Digital previews.

Adobe Analytics analyzed over 1,000 billion visits to travel websites from 2018 to 2019 and found that the best time for customers who have not yet purchased airline tickets for Christmas trips to purchase the cheapest tickets is the first week of December, when prices drop 13%.

People often just sketch a rough budget and don’t dig into any small fees that might get them above what they want to spend.

Sarah schlichter

Wait too long and you’ll see prices go up 8% the week before the holiday.

For the Thanksgiving trip, you might have missed out on the best deal. The data company has found that the first week of November is the optimal time for last-minute bookings. He expects tickets to climb to 14% a week before the holidays.

Waiting to book a few weeks before your trip can get you some good deals, although this might not necessarily be the best time to do so. Overall, booking vacation trips for about three to four months is a “good rule of thumb to unlock cost savings,” Pandya said.

Plus, the date you actually travel could save you money.

“For the lowest rates, you might want to start your trip on Thanksgiving Day,” Expedia’s Tiacoh said.

However, if you don’t want to spend the vacation on a plane, go on Monday or Tuesday of Thanksgiving week for the second cheapest fares, she said, pointing to 2018 vacation data.

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For Christmas, the cheapest day to fly is Christmas Eve. Last year, travelers paid about $ 100 less than those who started their trip on the Saturday before the vacation, according to the travel booking site.

If you don’t want to travel on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, try starting your trip on the 23rd, Tiacoh said. The busiest day is on December 21, she added.

Forget the “little extras”

Plane tickets, hotel, rental car, and food are usually top of everyone’s budget. However, people tend to forget the little things that can add up quickly on a trip, said Sarah Schlichter, editor-in-chief of online travel magazine

This can include things like tolls, ATM fees, and coffee / snack breaks.

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She suggests budgeting an extra $ 25 to $ 50 per day for these types of unexpected expenses.

“Planning a trip takes enough time without trying to factor in all possible expenses,” Schlichter said.

“Especially at a busy time of the year like the holidays, people often just sketch a rough budget and don’t dig into all the small charges that could cause them to exceed what they want to spend.”

Do not consider travel insurance

People also don’t think about travel insurance, which can cover things like trip cancellation, medical treatment, lost baggage, or a missed connection.

“If you’re planning to fly or take a longer vacation while on vacation, it can really pay off if you need it,” AAA Hall said.

This is especially important at this time of year, as winter conditions also become a factor, she said.

In addition, there is also the expected rush of travelers, which could lead to delays and overbookings on airlines. Last year, AAA predicted that 54 million Americans would travel on Thanksgiving, and 112 million would take a trip over the Christmas and New Years holidays.

Skip food and entertainment

If you plan to eat out, be sure to include it in your budget. The same goes for entertainment, especially if you have kids.

If you are staying in a hotel, AAA’s Hall suggests that you research accommodations that may offer children’s programs or vacation activities.

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Also find a hotel that offers free breakfast to keep food costs down.

If you booked your trip through a travel website, its app can show you different attractions and activities at your destination.

Expedia’s Tiacoh said using the app to purchase these tickets can “save time and money.”

Ignore hidden charges

It’s easy to overlook charges that aren’t included in your major upfront expenses when booking a trip.

For example, your economy class ticket or super-discounted airline flight might seem cheap to start with, but there are usually other charges that aren’t included in the price.

“Economy fares may seem appealing at first, but by the time you factor in fees for checked baggage, carry-on baggage and seat selection… they can exceed the cost of a standard ticket in some cases,” said AAA’s Hall. .

There are also items like resort fees, parking fees, or Wi-Fi fees that may not be included in hotel rates.

“Make sure to look very carefully at all costs before you book,” said Schlichter of

“Many travel companies make the base fare very obvious in order to encourage travelers to book – while burying the extra charges in the fine print,” she added. “If you’re in a rush, it’s easy to read over it.”

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