The open road for less

We’re enjoying the middle of summer vacation. Families everywhere are venturing out, about and abroad, creating memories that will last a lifetime. We hope you’re having a blast, but we’d also like you to do so without fracturing your finances.

Our guess is that your plane tickets have already been purchased or the road trip mapped out. You know where you’re going, how you’ll get there and where you’re staying. With that in mind, let’s focus on the execution phase of your vacation. In other words, you’ve made it to your destination – you’re on the ground and ready for a good time. These tips are designed to keep your trip fun even when being frugal.

Smart dining. For many folks, eating out is already a big money waster at home. Reining in spending while on vacation can be even tougher. But don’t let the bright lights of a new town throw you off your game. Instead, pack snacks for the theme park or other tourist destinations. When you do eat out, drink water and skip dessert. And remember that there’s nothing wrong with hitting the local grocery store and picking up the makings for some brown-bag lunches. 

Out on the town. We all love to be entertained, but going out gets expensive quickly. Do research in advance. Look online for coupons or military discounts, but read all the fine print. Is there something you want to do that doesn’t carry a big price tag? For example, a local museum may be a lot of fun and even free. Take that brown-bag lunch to a local park and win on two fronts. You don’t need to fork out a lot of cash to enjoy your vacation.

Souvenirs. From the $25 T-shirt to the soon-to-be broken keychain, save your money. Take family photos or shoot a video of the trip instead, and encourage kids to keep a journal. These types of keepsakes can truly capture the moment.
We’re not trying to suck the fun out of your vacation, but we’ve got our eye on your wallet. So even if you meet us halfway, you’ll save some of your hard-earned cash and still have an unforgettable getaway.

June Lantz Walbert and J.J. Montanaro are certified financial planners for USAA, The American Legion’s preferred provider of financial services. Submit questions for them online.

This material is for informational purposes. Consider your own financial circumstances carefully before making a decision and consult with your tax, legal or estate planning professional.USAA means United Services Automobile Association and its insurance, banking, investment and other companies. Banks Member FDIC. Investments provided by USAA Investment Management Company and USAA Financial Advisors Inc., both registered broker dealers. USAA Financial Planning Services® refers to financial planning services and financial advice provided by USAA Financial Planning Services Insurance Agency, Inc. (known as USAA Financial Insurance Agency in California), a registered investment adviser and insurance agency and its wholly owned subsidiary, USAA Financial Advisors, Inc., a registered broker dealer. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® and Certified Financial Planner TM in the United States, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.