Summer’s coming and it’s not too early to plan some get away time. But how can you fit it into the budget? Here are ten tips to help you plan a more affordable vacation.
1. Save up and pay cash – Calculate how much money you think you’ll need and then add 10-15% more for unexpected expenditures. Next, using a time line to the date you will leave, begin saving on a schedule. (Don’t forget to make plans for bills you’ll need to pay before you leave.)
2. Research your destination – Check online for deals, discounts, coupons and free activities. Call and chat with the local visitor’s bureau. Sign up for special coupon and offer emails from the websites of activities you’ve planned.
3. Pack grocery and restaurant coupons, snacks and meal staples –Plan to buy some items at a store, rather than eating out every meal. Use a box and a cooler to pack snack and sustainable meal items you already have on hand. Plan your eating out around coupons you have.
4. Share meals when eating out – Being hungry (and tired) can override better judgment and result in ordering too much food. Remember, you can always order more if someone is still hungry, but you can’t order less.
5. Shop accommodations –Call hotels directly and ask for their lowest price. Find a hotel that offers free breakfast to save on food. If vacationing for two nights or more, consider resorts or home vacation rentals. Often the per-night total is lower, the space is larger, and most have a kitchen.
6. Research free transportation – Some accommodations offer free tram or shuttle service to/from attractions or the airport. You have to abide by their schedule, but it saves big in parking fees and gas.
7. Research traffic patterns – If you drive yourself, use the web to map out routes and learn local traffic. Knowing an alternate route (or a better time to be in transit) can save gas and a lot of time.
8. Make a packing list early – This way, you’ll know ahead of time things you need – so you can get a great deal on must-have items.
9. Watch for local deals and Restaurant.com offers – Sign up for emails for your destination from sites such as Groupon, Seize the Deal and Living Social. Check Restaurant.com for restaurants you can try.
10. Travel with friends or family – And share costs. It makes a nice vacation more affordable and a lot more fun.
The most expensive vacations are the ones that are the least planned out. It takes the enjoyment out of a vacation when you are left with nothing but bills for souvenirs when it’s over.
Written by: SavingsAngel Di (blog angel) on April 27, 2012.