Today I wanted to talk about vacations. In the past, my husband and I would try to take a vacation at least every other year. We set it up this way because we were heavy in debt, but now that we are debt free, we plan to vacation every year (or several times a year). Sometimes we set-up a staycation (stay at a local resort or hotel), moderate vacations where we drive at least 3 hours north or south from our city, or a major vacation where we travel to a different state altogether. But the great thing we’ve established when we go on any vacation is to pay for it via cash. Even when we were in debt, we made sure we had money allocated for the trip.
Please keep in mind we did not deprive ourselves when we didn’t take a vacation. We just found lower cost activities to participate in like going on dates, going to the beach or canoeing, biking, and much more. We still had tons of fun.
No matter what financial state you may be in, it’s always good to take a break from the norm. Here is my guide on having a budget friendly vacation.
Set aside money from your income tax
I know, you’d rather get new appliances, but who said you can’t have both. Depending on what you get back, you can always use some of the funds to get away for a bit.
Stay in hotels that serve free breakfast/coffee/tea/snacks
You can still stay at a four or five-star hotel that serves breakfast for free. That’s what I’m adamant about when it comes to traveling. This is one way to save on food costs and I like the convenience of just going downstairs to eat my food rather than hopping in the car.
Stay at an Airbnb if you have a large group
We’ve only done this once (so far) and it was amazing. The house was clean, the children had room to move, and we felt like we were home. We were a party of 8 so it was great. Did you know Airbnb allows you to split payments with guests you are traveling with? So no need for reimbursements. I would definitely do this again.
Use booking sites to get the lowest cost
For flights and hotels, I use booking sites to get low fares. I heard the best time to use the sites are Tuesday and Wednesdays. Not sure if it’s true though.
Stay at a friend’s house for a night or two
If you are traveling light, meaning traveling alone, and only staying in a city for a couple of days, contact your friends around that area to see if you can crash at their place for a bit. Offer to buy them dinner or pay for their gas in exchange.
Skip a meal or pack lunch
This is so necessary for these major theme parks. An average lunch at a theme park can be $15-20 per person. I’m talking about a small burger, fries, and soft drink. No thanks. Get a backpack and pack your lunch. Don’t forget to get water bottles.
Check if your employer gives discounts
My employer gives us great discounts and deals on car rentals, cruises, and major theme parks. For instance this year we went to Legoland on a buy one get one free deal. Score!
Use gift cards
When traveling, a way to stop spending your money is to put money in gift cards. You can put up to $500. When we went to Gatlinburg, we had several gift cards that were allocated to food, attractions, and gas. I made sure the cards had no restrictions.
Use a CityPASS for major cities
When my husband and I went to Chicago, we used CityPASS to see most of the major attractions. Not only did we receive a discount for each attraction, but we were also given priority entrances. For more information, click here.
Use Groupon when going out for food, public transportation, and activities
Being in a new environment can be quite intimidating. By using Groupon, you can see where locals eat and what they do. Plus you can get great discounts for trying something new. Just don’t forget to use your gift card for payment transactions.
I hope this article was of help to you. How are you planning on budgeting for your next vacation?