Vacation Solutions for the Budget-Impaired
Summer is the time our thoughts turn to getting away… lounging on a beach, sipping a long, cool drink, enjoying the surf and the sun. But then reality rears its ugly head and we have to go back to work just to make the mortgage payment.
There are frugal vacation solutions available. And while you may not be able to go exactly where you would like, stay as long as you want, or spend as much as you choose, you can use some of these ideas to save enough money to help you take that needed vacation this year.
Your vacation budget will, of course, include lodging, meals, transportation and entertainment costs, with the first three being the most costly. To cut vacation expenses, minimize what you pay in as many areas as you can.
• Stay with a friend or family member.
• Camp out or go RVing. Borrow equipment if you can since the costs to rent an RV, in particular, can be prohibitive.
• If you choose to go camping or RVing, try boondocking (staying in a campsite with few amenities) or opt for a state park which is always a cheaper alternative than the KOA-type campgrounds.
• Swap houses with a family in the area you plan to visit.
• Borrow a timeshare.
• Stay in a convent, monastery, or hostel.
• If you do stay in a motel, choose a mid-week visit rather than a weekend. It can cut your lodging bill by up to 50 percent.
• Book your room online and in advance for additional savings.
• Take a variety of day trips rather than staying overnight. This can be especially fun if you live near a beach, a large lake, or another attraction.
• Stay home! Commonly called “Staycations” because you never leave home, you can create a relaxing, enjoyable week of leisure for yourself and your family without ever leaving the house.
Visit local attractions, go on picnics, play in the park, swim in a nearby lake or go for a hike. Vacations are about having fun and relaxing.
• If you plan to drive, go somewhere nearby to minimize gasoline expenses.
• Travel with another family and split the costs.
• When flying, choose evening and weekday flights to get the best deal on airfare.
• Travel by train or bus to save money and enjoy seeing the country without the hassle of driving yourself.
• Eat lighter meals, especially at dinner. Save your largest meals for lunch when you can usually find specials and discounts.
• Drink water rather than soda, and avoid alcoholic beverages.
• Choose restaurants where the kids can eat free. Take advantage of senior discounts if they apply.
• Stop by a grocery store and pick up sandwich items, snacks and breakfast bars so you only have to eat one restaurant meal a day.
• Opt for as many free attractions as you can find. Consider museums, antique shops, local factories, etc. You can find them in almost every region of the country.
• Avoid resort areas and “tourist traps” where prices are usually much higher.
• When you visit local attractions, ask for resident discounts. Many of the businesses in resort areas such as Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, offer 10 to 20 percent discounts to county residents.
• Minimize your souvenir shopping. Send a postcard instead and save your money to enjoy the trip.
• While you want – and probably need – to save money on your vacation, be careful that you’re not so concerned about the costs that you can’t enjoy yourself. Save your money in advance and have enough to do the things that really matter to you. After all… you deserve a break this summer… enjoy it!