How to Vacation on a Budget

How to Vacation on a Budget

Some of our best memories are those of the vacations we take.  Unfortunately, many of us don’t take enough vacations.  Perhaps we don’t take enough because we think good vacations should be expensive.  That isn’t true at all.  Great vacations can be taken for less than you think.  It’s all a matter of adopting a frugal mindset.   Here are some tips on enjoying a great vacation on a budget.

Travel During the Off-Season

There are a lot of advantages to traveling during the off-season, but the most important one is that it can save you a ton of cash.  Airlines and hotels can offer substantial discounts during non-peak travel times.  By avoiding these peak dates, you will also avoid crowds and not feel like you are lost in a crowd.  All it takes is a little research to discover these savings.

Set Email Alerts

This is a great way to save some money on airline and hotel prices.  This way, every time a price drops you will be notified.  Unless you want a lot of emails, set your threshold at 15% to 20% rather than 5%.

Visit Friends or Family

Hotels can account for a large sum of your travel budget, so why not go to a destination where you can stay with a friend or family member?  Just by doing this, you could save enough money to take another trip later in the year (and stay with a different friend or family member).  Just make sure you aren’t a nuisance and offer to repay the favor if they visit your area.  Also, it’s highly recommended you bring a gift as a token of appreciation.  It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift, but something you know they would like.

Book Mid-week Flights

If you can swing it, try scheduling your flights on Tuesday or Wednesday.  These are usually the slowest travel days and ones that could net you the biggest savings.

Schedule Flights on Major Holidays

Most people are already at their destination on major holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter.  You can often save $100 or more, per person, by traveling on these holidays.

Go Camping Instead

Sitting by a campfire, roasting marshmallows, and swapping stories can lead to great memories, plus campsites are far cheaper than hotel rooms.  Even if you rent canoes or a boat for fishing, you’ll still probably save money in the long run.

Look for Coupons

Coupons aren’t just for grocery stores.  Many activities, services, and restaurants may offer substantial deals, especially in the off-season.  Look on the internet ahead of time to see what coupons might be available.  Other deals might be available if you are a member of AARP or AAA.  A little time and research could save you a bundle.

Pack a Cooler

If you are traveling with kids, this is critical.  They can get cranky when their blood sugar drops (spouses can too).  Instead of buying over-priced snacks and drinks at a convenience store or concession area, grab a low-cost item out of your cooler and save the extra expense.

Join Loyalty Programs

Many airlines, hotels, and rental car companies offer loyalty programs and the bonuses can be substantial.  In a matter of a short time, you may qualify for free trips, hotel stays, and rental car days.

Drive Instead of Fly

This won’t work for everyone depending on the distance and time allowed, but if you can drive to your destination you will probably save money rather than flying.  Plus, most people will wind up spending money on transportation at their destination anyway.  If you have the time, spend a day or two driving to your destination and schedule something fun to do along the way so it breaks up the monotony of just driving for hours.

Take the Red-Eye

Whether it’s a train, plane, or bus, fares can sometimes be cheaper but it also serves as a hotel stay, allowing you to get some sleep while someone else does the driving.  This alone can save some extra dollars if your budget is thin.

Book a Place With a Kitchen

Next to transportation and accommodations, eating is a big part of your travel budget.  Restaurants are great but expensive.  You can save potentially hundreds of dollars by buying food at a local grocery store and preparing your meals in your room.

If you have a travel bug and want to travel more, then spending less on each trip is the solution.  Being frugal doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your vacation.  Many people enjoy their trip more knowing the money they save and realizing they can enjoy another vacation that year.  Be creative and discover new ways of being frugal.  You just might make frugal traveling a lifetime obsession.

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