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Vacationing on a Budget


direction pole with signs for countries and cities on a beachSummertime... 

The time of the year when many of us take the opportunity to get away for a vacation. In fact, according to AAA, "almost 100 million Americans, or 4 in 10 U.S. adults, will take a family trip in 2019."

Whether you are traveling near or far, solo or with a group, there is a lot involved in planning a trip:

Where will you go? 

How will you get there?

Where will you stay? 

What will you do while you're there?

All of these questions are tied heavily to one huge factor: Budget. What you can (or cannot) afford has a huge bearing on the decisions you make when it comes to your travel plans. According to an article from CNBC, Americans are budgeting between two to three weeks pay for their summer vacations. For those of us that can't put that kind of cash aside for a trip, there are ways to pan budget friendly vacations that can fit anyone's needs.

Here are some suggestions on planning a vacation that fits your budget:

Start a Vacation Fund

Banks like SSB provide high-yield savings account options that can help you put aside some cash for your desired vacation and give your money the opportunity to earn interest while it sits in the bank. You can either deposit amounts sporadically over time (when you can afford it), or determine a set amount each pay check to be deposited into your account. An even better approach would be estimating how much your vacation will cost and determining an amount each month that should be set aside to cover the trip until your set to leave or your funds are due. Either way, you will be one step closer to your dream vacation and you'll be a little less stressed going into the trip knowing you have the financial side covered.

Plan Within Your Means

Keeping finances in mind, don't plan for a vacation that is out of your means before you even get there, because we all know how tough it can be to stick to a budget while on vacation. "In 2018, budgeting app Mint reported that of the 2.2 million users who created a monthly travel budget with its technology, 44% spent more in the end than they’d saved for trips." With that said, if you know you can be "that person" when it comes to overspending, keep that in mind when budgeting for your trip. On the other hand, plan ahead for some cost-effective alternatives to keep you from spending unnecessarily on the trip:

  • Create a packing list so you don't have to go to the store and buy things you forgot.
  • Make a trip to the local grocery store once you get to your vacation spot (if that's an option) and buy groceries to account for some meals and snacks throughout the week.
  • Plan for some nights in to relax rather than dinners out. 
  • Bring board games for some family fun that won't cost a dime!  

Start Researching Hotels and/or Travel Options ASAP

So many hotels, airlines and transportation rental companies offer a wide variety of deals. Giving yourself the time to compare those deals and your options will allow you to make the best financial decision. When you leave yourself little to no time to make accommodations, you are often left to settle for what's available instead... sometimes costing you more than what you budgeted for from the beginning.

Look into Cashback or Reward Credit Cards

It is possible to earn a little more bang for your buck when you know you will be using certain travel accommodations, especially with cashback or rewards credit cards. For example, if you know you are a frequent flier on a certain airline, you can earn points for booking travel on their branded credit card which will in turn provide you future travel opportunities or discounts on your upcoming trip. Certain credit card companies also offer cashback opportunities related to certain spending categories, such as travel or 

Take a "Stay-cation" in (or near) Your Hometown

Everyone needs an opportunity to unwind and "get away", even if you don't have the means to take the elaborate trip of your dreams just yet. "Stay-cations" are a great alternative for those of us on a tighter budget. In some cases, there are lots of free options in and around your hometown that you may not even be aware of! We asked for some suggestions for great activities and "stay-cation" ideas around the city of Pittsburgh, and the response we received was overwhelming! 

Here are some of the suggestions we received:

  • Moraine State Park for hiking, exploring nature and weekend getaways.
  • The North Shore for swimming, boating, biking and sightseeing. You can even catch a game at PNC Park or Heinz Field, depending on the time of the year!
  • Venture Outdoors and Kayak Pittsburgh can provide awesome experiences on the water for those that are looking for a more immersive experience.
  • Movies in the Park available at most community parks in the city and suburbs of Pittsburgh.
  • Great Allegheny Passage, connecting Pittsburgh to D.C., can take adventurous individuals and families on a 335-mile weekend adventure.
  • Three Rivers Heritage Trail or the Rachel Carson Trail for miles of serene landscape for those who want to bike, walk or run.
  • Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh Special Events including Good Fridays at the Warhol where they offer half-price admission to the museum and a cash-bar beginning at 5pm.
  • Pirates Cove Water Park at Conley Resort for a fun-filled family getaway that's not too far away.

For some slightly more elaborate weekend getaways that are necessarily within the city limits, check out some of these well-known and raved about locations:

  • Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
  • Omni Bedford Springs
  • The Poconos
  • Laurel Highlands

For more Pittsburgh-based suggestions, check out this article.

Regardless of what vacation plans you decide to make this summer, SSB Bank has your back with a variety of banking and lending options. Give us a call and we can help you determine what products can help you reach your vacation goals this summer and in the future.


Kiesnoski, Kenneth. “Here's Where Americans Are Vacationing This Summer - and What They're Spending.” CNBC, CNBC, 2 July 2019,

Locke, Karyn. “Pittsburgh Staycation Ideas for Families: Fun and Free!: TravelingMom.” Traveling Mom, 28 Mar. 2017,