Document Viewer
3 ways to pay for your summer vacation
May 24

By JACKIE VELING of NerdWallet

A summer vacation can feel like a seasonal rite of passage - a sacred time to break away from the demands of everyday life in favor of fun and relaxation.

But summer can also be an expensive time to travel, which makes it hard to budget enough money for your vacation.

Though it's best to pay in cash for nonessential travel, there are financing options available, including credit cards, "buy now, pay later" plans and vacation loans. Consider the interest rate and how long you'll be in debt when deciding which to choose.


Travel demand is in "near-record territory" with all indicators pointing to a "very robust summer leisure travel season," the U.S. Travel Association , a nonprofit that monitors the U.S. travel industry, said in an email. According to the association, demand has driven up prices in sectors like airfare and lodging.

Even without higher prices, travel is tough to budget for, says Jake Northrup, a certified financial planner in Bristol, Rhode Island.

"Travel usually comes in big waves, and there's just a lot of uncertainty as to what things will actually cost," Northrup says.

Adrienne Davis, a certified financial planner in the Washington, D.C. , area, says her clients often receive last-minute offers to go on trips with friends or family, which leads to a cash shortage.

"We don't expect prices to be that high when it's time to book," Davis says. "And if your money is already allocated on a month-to-month basis, it's like, 'Wow, where am I going to get this extra $500 or $1,000?'"

Northrup and Davis emphasize it's best to avoid taking on debt for a vacation. But because a trip can mean precious time with loved ones or an enriching personal experience, it's reasonable to explore your options.

"I certainly understand sometimes the best decision that you can make is not the most financially optimal one, and that's OK," Northrup says.


The majority of travelers this summer (85%) plan to use a credit card to cover travel expenses, according to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll for NerdWallet, though most (74%) plan to pay it off in full within the first billing statement.

Davis prefers a credit card if you must finance a trip because you'll likely earn points or cash back, which can offset costs. Some cards come with protections, she says, like travel insurance.

But interest rates on credit cards are high, which is why Davis recommends getting a card with a 0% annual percentage rate and paying off the balance during the initial promotional period - typically 15 to 21 months - before regular interest kicks in.

Companies like Affirm and Uplift offer buy now, pay later plans for travel.

By The Associated Press, Copyright 2023

Join Now for the 50 Plus Newsletter