We’ve still got a lot of summer left ahead of us and I don’t know about you, but lately I keep finding myself daydreaming of a warm sandy beach and a cool fruity drink in my hand. Then I wake up and realize I’m still at work. Vacations can be a financial drain, but they don’t have to be if you follow a few smart tips. And they’re so worth it right? After all, you deserve some rest and relaxation from the grueling grind of work! So, here are six tips that I’ve found to help me save money when planning a vacation.
Do your homework
The number one way to save yourself some money is to invest a little time and do your research. Did you know that Wednesdays and Sundays are the cheapest days to fly? And if you get on the first flight of the day you’ll save even more? A 4am wake-up call just might be worth it for significant savings. Look up your destination and find deals and hotspots the locals love before you leave.
Book early … or late
The best bargains, options and availabilities usually go to folks who book their trips in advance. However, we’re in the middle of summer (so it’s, uh, a little late!) and well, the sluggish economy has shrunk the “in advance” window down from months to weeks. People are no longer booking a great deal in advance. So don’t think that everything’s booked. There are still great vacations to be had and deals to be had throughout the summer. So spontaneous ladies out there could make last-minute getaways work for their wallet. Sites like Travelocity and Expedia feature last-minute deals to destinations all over the globe if you’re willing to wait and act fast!
Look for vacation rentals, rather than hotel rooms.
If you are going with your family or you’ll be travelling with friends, I definitely recommend checking into vacation rentals. My favorite places to check for these are Craigslist, and Vacation Rentals By Owner. If you split the house or condo with another family, you can usually find a place to stay for $400 to $700 per family per week! That’s a great value when you consider the cost it would be to rent two or three hotel rooms for an entire week. But, there are more benefits than just the weekly rate. You’ll get a full kitchen, so this means you can go to the local supermarket and buy a bunch of food for breakfast, lunch, and a few dinners. You’ll save a ton of money rather than eating out every day. Plus, parents will get their own rooms, which is nice for privacy on your vacation!
Or go All-inclusive if it’s offered.
Some of you may disagree with me, but this can be a great deal. There are so many resorts now that include all meals, adult drinks, and some excursions. And these are not the corny Sandals of years past. No. These are awesome. The simple fact that you can eat and drink as much as you want and whenever you want saves you tons of money. Plus, some offer flights packaged in with the deal along with transportation to and from the airport. I’m not saying that it’s always a better deal, but if you price it during an off-peak time, you may find that it’s the way to go.
Hit the road
There’s nothing like a road trip. If you and your girls decide to drive, make it a part of the vacation and have fun hitting up attractions along the way. Don’t forget to find local paces to eat, it’s the best way to experience local culture.
Have a checklist
Make a checklist of everything you need before you pack and double-check it before you leave. If you get to your hotel and realize you forgot something important – like your cell phone charger or the SD card for your digital camera – you’ll waste money buying another.
And once you’re there…
When at all possible, try to avoid eating out!
I know this is tough, and part of being on vacation is not worrying about cooking or cleaning. And clearly the best part of traveling to certain places is trying out the best foods (Hello, Italian gelato)! But, a great money-saving strategy is to find a place to stay that will at least include breakfast in the price. Then, for lunch, try to eat light and pack sandwiches, fruit, and granola bars to snack on. Wouldn’t you rather spend more money on dining out for dinner (and gelato!) than spend so much money on breakfast and lunch?
Keep the Little Costs Under Control
Do you really need that expensive T-shirt? And are you really going to use that coffee mug? Let’s face it, most souvenirs mean little two weeks after vacation ends. I’d much rather take a bunch of photos and get them framed or put in an album after I get home. So try to defer souvenir shopping until the last portion of the trip to cut down on the number of purchases.
Follow these money-saving strategies and it’s totally possible to book a killer vacation and still have money leftover to splurge on a new bikini and drinks by the pool.