Has inflation taken a bite out of your summer budget? Or maybe you weren’t planning a vacation in the first place? It may be tempting to forgo travel for another year when times aren’t so tight. But getting out of town – at least for a few days – has many benefits. And it doesn’t have to be expensive, especially if you think outside the box and take some smart steps before hitting the road.
Give Illinois Camping a Try
Did you know there are dozens of state parks, full of beautiful scenery and recreational activities for all ages, right out your back door? That’s just one reason to consider camping. Improved equipment (like easy-to-assemble tents) makes camping comfortable even for people who don’t think of themselves as outdoorsy. A few tips from the pros:
- Check out Illinois State Parks online. You’ll find out everything from which parks are more conveniently located to whether electricity is provided on your campgrounds to what nearby amenities are offered. Whether you’re into hiking, fishing, boating or bird-watching, there’s something for everyone.
- Look for low camping fees. You can save cash just by choosing more economical campsites. For instance, Illinois state parks charge camping and cabin fees that range from $10 to $35. A three-day weekend on the lower end can save you $45 – enough to cover ice cream and snacks for the family!
- Pack your own food and beverages. A fully stocked cooler can save you a bundle, including saved time from not having to stop at restaurants. Remember to freeze meat and refrigerate other perishable products before leaving so they stay cool longer.
- Double up with a friend. When it comes to camping, the more the merrier. An extra person also means someone else to chip in for gas, snacks and camping fees.
- Bring some entertainment. Camping is a chance to get away from social media and smartphones and enjoy one another’s company. Don’t forget to pack a few games, guitars, and anything else your family likes using to pass the time.
Smart Budgeting Tips to Lower Gas and Other Travel Costs
A little advanced planning goes a long way when it comes to saving those hard-earned dollars. Budgeting is just the beginning. Smart planners want to know how much money they have in order to estimate the breakdown of costs: food, gas, lodging, entertainment, etc. Find out where to get gas so you can hit up the lower-cost gas stations. Ask for deals at hotels – and use those deals as bargaining chips to score extra discounts. A more complete list of travel costs that includes parking, tips, and even ATM charges will let you know how much moola is leftover for vacation fun.
Save Cash with Travel Budgeting Apps
If there’s a way to save money, an app has been invented to find it. Here are a few apps that might come in handy while on vaycay:
- GasBuddy is a well-known gas app that tells you the price of gas at nearby stations. But there are many different apps to help drivers spend less on gas. Check them out here.
- PocketGuard can update and categorize the money you’re spending in real time – great for folks who struggle to stay on top of their spending.
- TripMate will help you track your expenses and provide useful deets on hotels.
- Wally connects with your financial accounts so you stay up to date on your cash flow.
Other apps can tell you and your travel buddies the state of each person’s expenses so no one gets stuck with the bill. Do a little digging to find out which apps might be useful while on the road.
Check Out Convenient Chicago South Suburban Financial Services at SSCE
One last thing: be sure your financial ducks are all in a row before you leave. Chicago’s South Suburban Community Exchanges (SSCEs) have many services to help locals stay on top of their finances this summer. There are lots of things you can get done under one roof here before leaving town:
- Take care of outstanding boat registrations & titles
- Get auto insurance for the road
- Cash any type of check
- Load up your prepaid debit card
- Set up electronic bill payment
We’re here to serve you and help you achieve your financial dreams with an array of services. Find your nearest location or check out our other services online to find out what else we can do for you this summer.