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How To Finance Your Tropical Vacation

January 17, 2018

Tropical beach scene, trip paid for with financing, flip flops stuck in sand say “Winter Smarter”With smart advice

When winter weather inspires you to make plans to travel someplace warm, some sound advice on planning and financing can make all the difference. Your plans will often include airfare, accommodations, meals, entertainment, activities, and other expenses. If your estimated total cost already has you searching for a travel loan, you could benefit from learning more about how best to finance your travel, and what kinds of credit or loans work better.

Travel to warmer destinations can get expensive. From airfare to accommodations, meals, activities, and entertainment, costs can add up without some smart money management. The following list is a great place to start, and can help us decide if a personal loan is right for you.


SAVING MONEY

  • Plan Ahead
    Your biggest cost savings can often be found by booking far enough ahead of time, especially for airfare and accommodations. These types of expenses are tend to be higher when paying at the last minute. Many resorts and travel web sites offer discounts if you plan ahead. If your Passport isn’t up to date, now is the time to apply for your renewal; last-minute rushes can cost much more.

  • Avoiding Peak Dates
    If at all possible, plan your trip in the early or late season, during the week, and during windows of time that most people aren’t on vacation. The savings during these “off-peak” times can include almost every expense on your list, including meals, shopping, and activities, from scuba or deep-sea fishing rentals to daily excursions. If you’re considering a vacation home-sharing service or vacation property rental, you’ll find that your travel dates can make a big difference in the asking price.

  • Consider the Less Popular Destinations
    The most popular tropical destinations are in higher demand, and can demand higher prices for everything from airfares to hotels, restaurants, and shopping. Look for highly rated resorts that are just a bit less popular, but offer a great experience. Many travelers report even better experiences at these destinations, without the crowds and over-commercialized development. Also consider airports that are not as close by; often flying out of Rochester, Buffalo, New York, Boston, or even a Canadian city can save you hundreds of dollars, even if a hotel stay is required to catch your flight.

  • Shop for Discounts
    Look for promotions, package deals, and discounts online before you book. Are you a student, educator, or senior citizen? Many destinations offer discounts for you, if you know to ask and apply. You might be surprised at the sizable savings. Don’t forget to check travel sites, which can offer savings on airfare, lodging, and vehicle rentals. Consider booking your accommodations through one of the big home- and apartment-rental sites, or even a home swapping service, if you’re feeling adventurous.


HOW TO PAY FOR YOUR VACATION

If you need vacation financing, there are some decisions to make about how you finance.

Personal Loan

A personal loan may be a good option to cover reasonably large expenses.

  1. It’s often less costly than other forms of borrowing. Check online or ask us about current rates.

  2. Budgeting can be easier. You’ll know up front what your monthly payments will be, and how long they’ll last.

Meet with a First Source Representative first, and make sure all the terms, any fees, and the payments all work with your budget and financial standing.

Credit Cards

We generally recommend using your credit cards to pay for some of the day-to-day vacation costs, especially if you earn rewards, and can pay them back over the short term. One option: secure your personal loan, use your credit cards for expenses (to earn your rewards), and fully pay them down using your loan; then all you have is low-rate loan to pay back.

Plan Ahead

Your tropical destination will provide you with great memories for years to come. With our help, you can plan ahead and manage your vacation finances in a way that makes your vacation just a bit more enjoyable.
Live smarter by making an appointment today to meet with one of our Financial Services Representatives about your tropical vacation financing.

Posted in: financing, loan, travel, trip, vacation

The Top 7 Snowmobile Trails in New York

January 18, 2018

Snowmobilers on a trail in the Adirondacks stop briefly to plan their routeExplore them all

New York State is full of great trail systems for snowmobilers. While dedicated sledders will debate which are best, we offer a short list of some of the area’s best to try. 

The Adirondack Park alone sports some 1,800 miles of trails on both private and public lands, just a small part of upwards of 10,000 miles in the New York State Snowmobile Trail system. Trails are maintained mostly by snowmobile clubs, and administered by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

  1. Tug Hill Plateau

This region, known for some of the heaviest snow fall in the state due to its location in the virtual “bull’s eye” of the lake effect zone, is partly in the western part of the Adirondack Park, and part on state and private lands. There are hundreds of miles of groomed trails in addition to ungroomed wilderness for the more adventurous. There are also plenty of restaurants, lodging, and attractions for those staying longer. 

  1. Moose River Plains

This less developed area contains plenty of backcountry trails, entry to which can be found through two state-owned entrances. This is also considered the largest single area of Adirondack public land that is accessible by snowmobile. You can access this area from Inlet, off State Route 28. Inlet itself contains groomed snowmobile trails connecting many of the longer trails in the region.

  1. Letchworth State Park

Billed as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” this beautiful park covers more than 14,000 acres, and attracts nature lovers year round. In the warmer months, its breathtaking gorges are the main attraction. In winter, the snowmobile trails (in addition to cross-country skiing and tubing) draw outdoorspeople. 

  1. Lake George

Did you know the Lake George Region features more than 200 miles of trails, with a wide variety of sledding? The Thurman Trail system is one of the largest, and many start at Prospect Mountain to enjoy the full range of the area’s extensive reach. It also doesn’t hurt that great restaurants, accommodations, and shopping are nearby.

  1. Old Forge

Long a haven for sledders who enjoy the area’s off-trail conveniences, the Old Forge region is close to the Tug Hill Plateau and its record snow, and sports easy access to restaurants, shops, and hotels. With more than 500 miles of trails (and most town streets open to snowmobiles), this is an ideal area to bring the whole group sledding.

  1. Speculator

More than 600 miles of trails in the Speculator area, featuring beautiful lake and mountain views, are a snowmobiler’s paradise. As one part of the popular Hamilton County trail system (part of the largest system in NY), Speculator is an accessible and widely traveled system.

  1. Madison County

Check out the fantastic trail system to our West and South. This region has more than 300 miles of picturesque and well-maintained trails for all skill levels. Your rides will take you along woodlands, hardwood and coniferous forests, waterfalls, and farmlands. Many towns cater to sledders with warm meals, pubs, and accommodations along the way.

Keep Exploring
While we limited ourselves to 7 snowmobile trail systems here, there are still thousands of miles of trails to ride throughout the state, from the Adirondack Seaway in St. Lawrence County, to Saranac Lake, Lake Champlain, the Lake Placid Region, Tupper Lake, Malone, Cranberry Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, and so much more. Check out the state trail map on the NYS Parks website. Remember to contact local clubs or trail system managers ahead of time about fees and more.

Considering a new sled or big vacation? Live smarter by making an appointment today to meet with one of our Financial Services Representatives about your winter vacation financing.


 

The Top 7 Ski Trip Destinations

January 17, 2018

Sunny, snowy hilltop with skis and poles planted in snow and “It’s Time to Ski” signFinding the best experience

If winter weather makes you anxious to get out on the slopes, then planning a winter getaway to a great ski area can be the highlight of the season. There are many ways to measure what makes a ski area “tops”, and you may have different priorities, but these are some of the best-ranked ski destinations based on snowfall, size, conditions, accommodations, and recommendations from experts. While we’ve focused primarily on downhill skiing/snowboarding destinations, most of these areas cater to telemark and cross-country ski enthusiasts as well. Check with the resort before planning your trip.

1. Park City/Salt Lake City, Utah

This region is well-known for some of the best skiing in the country, both from the 2002 Winter Olympics, and its reputation for phenomenal ski conditions on the slopes, and warmer weather in town. Deer Valley and Park City Mountain are the biggest resorts, with numerous runs for skiers and snowboarders, tubing hills nearby, beautiful accommodations, and memorable restaurants and shopping. This area also hosts the Sundance Film Festival, and the United States Ski Team trains there, so they must be doing something right!

2. Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge is one of the nation’s largest ski areas, with 187 trails and almost 3,000 acres of skiable terrain situated just a short drive from Denver and Vail. The area receives nearly 30 feet of snow annually, so conditions are almost always ideal. It’s considered a very friendly and welcoming ski town with Victorian styling and charm, and the downtown restaurants, bars, and shops have attractions for every age group and traveler.

3. Aspen, Colorado

The Colorado presence in this list is understandably strong, since the state boasts some of the best of our nation’s ski resorts in its many Rocky Mountain towns. With four major ski destinations in this one area—Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk—there’s a trail and difficulty level for every skier in your group. Aspen is known for its scenic ski-town vibe, with upscale chalets climbing the mountainsides all around. More than many resort towns, Aspen has off-slope activities for everyone, with shopping, museums, popular festivals, and more. This celebrity vacation destination lives up to its starry reputation. 

4. Lake Tahoe, California

This well-known and popular resort in eastern California is a gorgeous destination, with three ski areas in close proximity. While accommodations can be expensive, they’re also in demand, so you’ll want to plan ahead. The steep mountainsides and stunning views make the fantastic skiing conditions—considered some of the best on the continent—almost a secondary feature. The area also caters to visitors who also enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing, shopping, dining, and gaming (at the nearby casino), not to mention scenic tours, cruises, and more. 

5. The Finger Lakes, New York

Since we’re partial to Central New York and New York State, we had to include a few of the state’s best ski regions. The Finger Lakes region is the first, and not without reason. Lake effect snows keep this area in top condition for skiing, and its nearly 30 locations are frequented by skiers from around the Northeast. In addition to the skiing and beautiful landscapes for downhillers to enjoy, cross-country enthusiasts will find miles of trails to explore in the region, and the wineries, restaurants, and tourist attractions will keep you busy off the slopes.

6. Adirondack Mountains, New York

Our second nod to the fantastic skiing throughout New York State is a blanket area for a wide range of ski hills: the Adirondacks. Even setting aside the world-class skiing in Lake Placid, home to the 1980 Olympics and training ground for Olympic hopefuls, towering mountains like Whiteface, Gore, and other smaller and no-less fun ski areas make it a playground for those seeking the full variety of Eastern U.S. skiing. Of course, the full range of winter activities is also available, from cross-country skiing to backcountry and trail snowshoeing and more. The Adirondacks’ 6 million acres contain a multitude of resorts, attractions, festivals, accommodations, restaurants, and pubs.

7. Steamboat Springs, Colorado

With nearly 3,000 acres of trails and six peaks, Steamboat Springs (a.k.a. Ski Town, USA) gives skiers a staggering variety of choices, with downhilling for everyone from kids to advanced adults, and everything in between. Even snowboarders can choose from three different parks. Off-hill, there are cross-country, snowmobile, and snowshoe trails, as well as affordable accommodations, shopping, and attractions, like the area’s signature hot springs and mineral pools. Like museums, art galleries, restaurants, bars, and other non-skiing pursuits? This is your place.

Of course, there are many fantastic ski areas not mentioned here, including well-known ski destinations like Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Vail and Telluride in Colorado, and the big Eastern resorts like Killington, Stowe, and Sugar Mountain (Sugarbush) in Vermont, and Sugarloaf in Maine. The snowy world is yours to explore.

Travel Smarter

Need new gear to tackle the big mountains, or financial help with your travel expenses? Before you book or purchase lift tickets, Live Smarter by making an appointment today to ask how we could help. Planning ahead can make all the difference.

The ACS Wig Room

January 31, 2018

Attending the ribbon cutting on Friday, January 19th, pictured left to right: Stan Kocyba, First Source FCU Facilities Manager; Mike Parsons, First Source FCU Chief Executive Officer; Pamela Way, First Source FCU Community Relations Specialist; Ciara Parrish, American Cancer Society Coordinator of Community Support; Melanie Francis, Community Development Manager; Robert Elinskas, American Cancer Society Senior Community Manager.
 

Creating a Welcoming Space

As part of our community outreach and giving, we look to make a direct local impact. Recently we helped renovate a room at our local American Cancer Society. The Cancer Society has an area for those who have begun cancer treatment and are losing their hair, to try on wigs. We were pleased to be able to donate funds and volunteer our time and labor to give this room the attention it needed.

“The ‘wig room’, was in great need of a facelift,” said Ciara Parrish, Coordinator of Community Support for the American Cancer Society. “It’s really tough when reality sets in and you start losing your hair, and the area we had for wigs was not very inviting. This is a time that compassion and comfort is really needed. We are grateful to First Source Federal Credit Union for helping us make this a much warmer and inviting area.”

“Many are not aware of all of our services at the Cancer Society,” Parrish continued. “When patients come in for a wig appointment, we are able to give them one wig free of charge. This can not only be a big savings, it can also make the patient feel a little more like themselves again. Patients can call 1-800-227-2345 to schedule an appointment.”

“We’ve been involved with the American Cancer Society for many years,” said Pamela Way, First Source Community Relations Specialist. “We’ve had teams participate in their Relay for Life and Breast Cancer Walk fundraisers, but we wanted to change things up a bit, and really put our money and time into helping them right here at home, at the source. This renovation directly helps our community member diagnosed with cancer, at one of their most vulnerable times.”

Way added, “We’re fortunate to have a fantastic Facilities Manager at First Source who loves helping out on these kinds of projects. He has a great eye for renovations. We were really happy to be able to help them.”

Giving Smarter

Want to know more about how First Source gives back to our community? 

 

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