Vacations are usually an incredible expense for families. Most people save all year in order to take one trip, so there’s a lot of pressure to make it count! With a little planning and some compromises, you can actually make paying for your trip a lot less stressful.
Choose Your Timing
Everything about a vacation gets cheaper during the off season. Flights, hotels — even gas and dinner prices go down! Lower prices aren’t even the only benefits of traveling during the off season, either. The whole area will be less crowded than usual, which will make it feel more like an authentic experience instead of a tourist trap. You won’t be competing for hotel rooms or need to make reservations at restaurants, and the places you frequent will be very happy to see you!
Make Use of Coupons
Sites like Groupon are well known for offering up some awesome deals. Other places also make good use of discounts to fill up their rooms, and sites like Hotwire are a good place to find those. If you have a credit card that gives you flight rewards, you can plan to use those, and make sure to make purchases with the card that will get you the most points.
Ask About Discounts
One of the simplest ways to get discounts is to just call and ask when the place is having them. Ask the airline if there are any discounts available, or if the hotel you’re looking at is running a sale. The worst thing they can do is tell you they don’t have any discounts available, at which point you can simply ask if there’s another place nearby and what their name is. It might seem a little bit sneaky, but so long as you ask politely and avoid getting annoyed, most people will actually be very happy to help you out.
Bring Your Own Food
You’re not going to be bringing a five-course meal with you, but you’ll save a lot of time and money if you load yourself up with snacks from home. This is doubly true if you’re traveling with children! Packing easy items like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, carrot sticks, grapes, cherry tomatoes and pretzels helps keep everyone happy. If you’re driving, the crunchy items like carrots will help keep you awake too!
Seriously, if you pack too much luggage, you’ll end up covering the cost of an extra ticket to get all your bags on a flight! Try and pack as much as you can into whatever the airline allows you to take for free. Pack smart as well, and avoid taking too many of the same thing. One pair of flip-flops and one pair of sneakers is plenty for most vacations!
Skip the Hotel
Enjoying the great outdoors is a perfect way to unwind and relax on vacation. Camping can be an amazing option if you’re willing to give up a few “wants” in order to get some extra “needs.” A tent, sleeping bags, food, flashlights and a few ghost stories are all you really need to make your vacation focused on time with family or friends instead of television. It’s also great exercise, and you’ll get a chance to reset your internal clock — making it more likely that you’ll sleep better once you get home!
Focus on the Journey
The fun is in the journey, more so than the destination. Road trips are much less expensive than flights, and you get a “pick your own adventure” type of deal. If you plan for the right time, the only limits you have are when you have to go back to work! Detours are great opportunities for adventures — you can find a fancy restaurant one night and spend the next night making hotdogs and hamburgers on a grill at a campsite. Plus, if you decide to make road trips your thing, you can take multiple trips a year instead of being limited to a single big vacation.
Plan Your Indulgences
If you know where you’re going, you can choose where you’d be willing to spend a little extra money. It’s much better to plan to go water skiing than it is to blow that money on tee-shirts and snow globes. Spending more money on an activity that means something to you not only keeps you from spending it on meaningless things, but it also makes your trip feel more fulfilling. Spending your money on events also provides more satisfaction in the long term than buying material things ever will.
Vacations don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Take the time to plan some things out, and plan to spend your money on whatever means the most to you.