It is that time when families start taking their vacations, but the question is whether or not they have to spend a fortune on it. Unfortunately, there is a misconception that vacationers have to have thousands of dollars to take a one week vacation. The truth is they can vacation on a budget.
Even individuals who decide at the last minute to go on vacation don’t have to pay fortunes to go where they want to go. It is all about knowing how to budget and find the best vacation deals.
The perfect vacation on a budget happens when you plan. If you plan far enough in advance, then you can snag discounts at hotels. There are many that have early booking discounts and this can save you a lot of money. You can also see when they have their best deals.
If you have some flexibility in when you take your vacation, you can try going in the off season. The off season at the beach still involves some warm weather, but the prices are not as high. This period tends to begin after the kids go back to school. As an added bonus, all of the surf shops have marked down their merchandise and the beach is not crowded. This can give you and your family the opportunity to enjoy a large section of the beach all to yourselves.
You can also plan your transportation. Some small airports have small airlines that fly for as low as $50 each way. There are even some that charge as little as $75 round trip. If you can plan for one of these periods, then you can get to your destination extremely cheap.
In the meantime, you can save money toward the trip. Go online and look on the websites of the attractions you wish to check out and see if they have coupons for discounted tickets, contests for tickets, or anything that will give you the opportunity to get in cheap.
Last Minute Planning
Those that like to plan at the last minute gamble on whether they are going to get a good deal or not. Here is a tip: There are some airlines that will markup ticket prices to then lower them closer to departure if they are not selling. This is a time when it is good to check out one of the travel websites that can get you the good deals. The same applies to hotel rooms. If the rooms are not getting booked, the hotel will lower the prices and they will report this to the travel websites. You will have to do some looking around to find the lowest possible rate for what you need, but it’s there. You can also look at their websites to see what deals they have going on. For instance, one hotel may offer a free night if you stay 8 nights, while the one next door offers nothing. And Sundays are always the cheapest nights at hotels (check Hotel reward card offers).
If you need to get a rental car, a tip is to never rent at the airport. Even considering a lesser-known auto brand will save you some money. Car rental prices are also lower on the weekends because the car rental companies keep large fleets of cars during the week for business travelers.
Budget Your Cash
This one is a big one. If you can find a decently priced hotel with a kitchen or kitchenette in it, make sure you go to the grocery store when you reach your destination. Eating at restaurants is very expensive, but eating in at least once a day will save you a lot of money. For instance, a family of four costs an average of $10 each at a restaurant. That is a $40 restaurant bill with a tip that is around $8, so that is nearly $50 for that one meal. If you do that three times in a day, you are looking at nearly $150 for food for one day. If you are on vacation for 7 days, that is $1,050 in food alone. Grocery shopping and eating at the hotel once a day can save $266 in restaurant costs. If your groceries cost around $100, then that’s a gross of $166 in savings. If you eat in the hotel 10 times that week, that’s a gross of $280 in savings.
Consider how many times you’d like to eat in. Plan your restaurant trips ahead of time so you can calculate the groceries that you will need and approximately how much you will save doing that. This could also help you determine whether or not paying a little more for a hotel room with a kitchen is worth it. Chances are it will be.
You also want to plan your activities and keep in mind that there are typically coupon books all over tourist cities that contain discount coupons to some of the most popular attractions. Make sure you use those coupons because some of them can be worth anywhere between $2 and a free ticket. Check out their Facebook pages and look for opportunities for free tickets. Some tourist attractions like to give them out online once in a while.
If going to the beach, you may have heard that it is better to buy your beach supplies at home rather than at the beach. The truth is, you only do that if the beach shops at your destination are high-priced name brand stores. There are beaches with shops that will sell floats for as low as $2, beach chairs for as low as $10 and beach umbrellas for as low as $10. Even buying swimsuits at the beach can be cheaper, especially toward the end of the summer when the shops start marking down their merchandise.
The most important thing is that you have fun. Try not to stress over the budget by writing it all down and following your budget itinerary. It is possible to have fun without doing every activity or eating at every restaurant. It is not necessary to pay a fortune on airline tickets or rental cars, nor is it necessary to spend thousands on top of thousands of dollars to get away from it all.