It is a difficult balancing act to go on vacation, have a fun time, and keep everyone happy, while still maintaining some sense of order when it comes to your personal finances. A family vacation, even a brief stay-cation, can still inflict a painful dent in your bank account and put you into the red if you’re not careful.
The purpose of a vacation is to have fun and relax, not to worry about spending, however, you don’t want to get carried away with your cash outflow. Why waste money if you don’t have to? Follow these 20 tips to help you cut vacation costs without cutting out the fun.
1. Pack Right
Trimming your expenses and saving money on your vacation begins before you set foot outside your front door. Ensuring you have packed everything you need can save you from big costs when you arrive at your destination but if you then realize you have forgotten items of clothing, toiletries, medication, or other items, it can be potentially expensive to replace them in a tourist environment.
2. Pack Light
Making a list of what you need ahead of time, can keep you from forgetting those important items, as well as help you pack more efficiently. Avoid nasty luggage fees by keeping your suitcases few in number and light in weight. Check your airline’s website for luggage allowance stats. Remember, most hotels and resorts provide complimentary toiletries and offer laundry services if worse comes to worse.
Setting a budget can give you an idea of what your vacation will cost. In doing so, you can get a general idea of how much you will be spending, look for expenses that can be reduced, and reduce your chances of overspending.
4. Family Discussion
Talk with your family before you leave and let them know what the expectations are for your trip. When everyone is on the same page, there won’t be as much room for disappointment when it comes to how much you’re spending.
5. Plan Ahead
Making your travel plans in advance can save you big. Last minute bookings can be expensive and leave you with fewer options, though some VERY last minute bookings can save money as well … but YOU have to be ready and that still requires some planning.
6. Look For Discounts
Utilize the internet and coupon sites to save on hotels, airfare, rental cars, and theme park tickets. Often, by visiting a website directly or doing a quick online search, you can find coupons and discount offers.
7. Shop Online
Comparison shopping online can make searching for discounted travel arrangements cheap and easy. Aggregator sites like Expedia, Orbitz, and Hotels.com are great ways to search for discounted travel prices.
8. Be Social. Ask Around
Talking to family and friends and seeing where they went on vacation and what deals they found can be a great way to cut your costs when vacationing. Their travel experiences can help you know ahead of time what discounts to look for and what scams to avoid.
9. Talk to People
Don’t stop asking around just because you’ve arrived at your destination. Hotel, theme park, restaurant, and other hospitality related employees can be great savings resources when it comes to discovering the insider tips at a vacation destination.
10. Utilize Free Services
Complementary shuttles to and from your resort location, items in your hotel room like soaps, shampoos, pens, notepads, and all those other free extras can add up to additional savings. Even mini-fridges, microwaves, and coffee makers in your hotel room can allow you to cut costs by preparing your own meals.
11. Plan Your Day
By planning the day’s activities the night before, you can avoid wasting time, money, and fun. Being organized with planned activities can reduce the chance of costly impulse buys.
12. Choose One Meal
Rather than splurging on every meal, consider picking one meal a day and making this a ‘special meal’. Not only can this free up more time for doing fun stuff, but it will save you on food costs, and make the special meal exciting and something to be looked forward to each day.
13. Theme Park Food
If you are trying to cut costs on a theme park vacation, avoid indulging in super pricey theme park food. These tasty, yet excessively expensive items should only be an occasional treat, not the norm.
14. Drink Water
By filling up bottles of water before you leave your hotel room and carrying them with you on your travels, you might able to avoid the hefty costs often associated with purchasing drinks on vacation.
15. Pack Treats
Taking treats like granola bars, candy, crackers, chips, and similar snack food along with you on your travels can help you save on food costs. Being able to grab a snack from your purse or backpack can keep you energized as well as away from those potentially wallet busting snack shops.
16. Take Advantage of Freebies
Some hotels will offer complimentary breakfasts, snack hours, beverages, and other free services. Taking advantage of such freebies can offer huge savings on your food costs.
17. Avoid Souvenirs
Don’t fall into the souvenir trap when you’re on vacation. However, when you think back to experiences, and how little you’ve probably appreciated old souvenirs, it might be enough to avoid costly trinkets and tacky t-shirts.
18. Fun and Free
Events like fireworks displays, playgrounds, public beaches, and pools are great and often free ways to enjoy family time together.
19. Jump on Opportunities
If you have the ability to make use of delayed or canceled flights while on your vacation by giving up your seat, you could cut your costs significantly. Look for similar money saving opportunities while on vacation. You may never know where they might arise.
20. Travel Safe
Few things can ruin a vacation, or your budget, quicker than lost or stolen belongings. By splitting your travel money into several safe locations, making use of credit cards or Traveler’s Checks rather than cash, and keeping an eye on your belongings while in public places, you can reduce the risk of increased vacation expenses.
Tom Becker writes on money management tips and techniques for Credit Card Compare, an Australian credit card comparison site offering people a quick and easy way of comparing the best balance transfer cards and other cards so that people can get a better deal from the banks and issuers.
Photo by dexternicholson