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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.

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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.

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

5 Steps to Affording Your Vacation

July 11, 2017

Man enjoying a beautiful view on vacation he financed
Plan ahead for worry-free vacation financing

When you’ve been planning a dream vacation and you’re ready to find financing to make it happen, follow these 5 simple steps to making your adventure possible.

1. Plan Your Trip

You’ll need to know where you’re going, for how long, where you plan to stay, and at least an idea of the kinds of activities you plan to pursue while you’re there. All of these will figure into your travel and accommodations expenses, as well as entertainment expenses, how much meals and incidentals will cost, and more. Once you have your trip plan outlined, you can move on to figuring out your budget.

2. Estimate Your Expenses

With your trip plan in hand, make your best estimates for the costs of each part of your trip: travel getting to and from your destination (flights, cruise, etc.), any travel expenses while there (car rental, public transportation, ride sharing services), accommodations (hotels/motels/other), and daily expenses, including souvenirs, parks or attractions, and meals. If you’re traveling overseas, remember to factor in currency exchange rates. We also suggest adding in a little extra, say 10% more, for anything you’ve missed, or unexpected expenses. Every trip has them!

3. Start Saving

With this target number in mind, figure out how much you can reasonably set aside each week or month in advance of your trip, and how much total you’ll have saved by the time your departure date arrives. This may not necessarily match your target expenses for the trip. That’s where a loan comes in…

4. Apply for a Loan to Make Up the Difference

Start with how much cash you can save for the trip, subtract that from your total expenses, and you’ll have your target loan amount. So if your trip will cost $5,000, and you can save $2,000, you’ll need to borrow the difference ($3,000). Sit down with one of our loan officers early in the process, and we’ll help you figure out the best loan option for you. How do you start the financing process for a vacation? Learn more here.

5. Enjoy Your Adventure

Once you’re approved, congratulations—you’re going on an adventure! If you want to consider a larger loan amount or different terms next time around, just ask how we can help. We can suggest steps to get you better prepared for future loans. We want to make your vacation a reality!

Learn More

Visit our vacation financing page to learn more about how financing will work, then Live Smarter by setting up an appointment with one of our friendly representatives to discuss your needs.

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Choosing a Cruise

August 29, 2016

View from back deck of cruise ship

A cruise vacation lets you visit different destinations every day, without the daily packing, moving accommodations, and finding meals and entertainment. Follow these tips when selecting a cruise:

1. Choose the right cruise line. The cruise line you choose should match your personal style. Do you prefer something more refined and peaceful, or do you want parties late into the night? Find one that’s right for you and the experience you want.

2. Check the destination(s). Most cruise lines serve several destinations, with choices from around the world. Check the details, and make sure your preferred stops are included.

3. Explore the ship (online). Larger ships offer more activities, dining options, and entertainment, as well as a smoother ride in rough waters. Smaller ships can visit small (and more “exotic”) ports and offer more personal service. Find one that meets your needs.

4. Find the right dates. If you’re flexible, you can find better deals. Popular destinations (and cabin selections) may sell out early during peak months, so find a compromise you’re happy with.

5. Speaking of cabin… Your room can make or break your cruise. Do you want the lowest price without worrying about the accommodations, or a top of the line cabin with an big balcony? They’re both popular and usually sell out early. Decide before you shop.

6. Find a good travel agent. If a travel agent is a particular cruise line’s “preferred” agent, they can get you lower rates, better cabin selections, upgrades, and other percs. Find the right travel agent for the cruise you want.

Choose wisely, and your travels will be enjoyable and rewarding. Have you started saving yet for yours? Ask to see if we can help!

Posted in: Blog Posts

Vacation Savings for Next Year: Strategies

August 18, 2016

Family in car on vacation

When you’re ready to start saving for next year’s big dream vacation, keep your goal in mind to stay disciplined and on track! Whether it’s a trip to the Adirondacks, a cross-country family adventure, or an international escape, make a plan to save, and stick to it.

1. Get Everyone Involved. If you have children and are planning a family trip, let them help earn and save spending money for the vacation. Odd jobs, sales, allowance savings, you name it. They’ll learn about saving for goals, how small amounts can add up over time, and feel a rewarding ownership of the entire experience.

2. Save Before Spending. The easiest way to save is by setting aside a set amount before allocating the rest of your weekly expenses. You can set it up automatically with a regular transfer from your checking to savings account, or depositing a set amount from every paycheck into the vacation fund. It adds up quickly!

3. Have a Plan to Pay for it All. In case your saving plan doesn’t accumulate the entire amount in time, have a plan for paying the rest off after you return from your trip. Set aside so much a week (or month) so you don’t forget about it. Try to pay it off in less than a year.

4. Spread the Cost. If you must put expenses on credit, spread them across multiple credit cards to avoid approaching the credit limit on any one card (which can have a negative effect on your credit). Smaller amounts are also easier to pay off.

5. Plan for the Extras. If you’re planning an all-inclusive vacation, you won’t really need to worry about the “extras”. If not, think about what you would normally spend at home on groceries, recreation and entertainment, and budget for that plus a little more to cover the “extras” on your trip.

Need a little help? Make an appointment to meet with one of our Member Service Representatives to help you with your plan!

Posted in: Blog Posts

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