It’s that time of the year again. Time to start thinking about that summer vacation!
We all know that vacations can be hard on the wallet, but with these money saving tips you will be able to stay within your budget and have a nice and relaxing, well-deserved vacation.
- Start planning as early as possible. Even if you are not ready to book your vacation, you can at least stay abreast of deals that may be offered for your ideal dates of travel. This will also give you time to set aside money in a savings account opened specifically for your trip. If you are thinking of a cruise for your vacation, the rates are generally the lowest right when they are released and are released over a year in advance.
- Bring your own food and snacks. This tip right here can cut your food budget almost in half! A full day of touring a new city or playing on the beach is enough for anyone to work up a huge appetite. Having pre-purchased snacks ready-to-go for the kids and yourself will help you avoid paying a premium on them. Have a large family? Go to Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJs and load up on all the family favorites. Don’t forget to stock up on water too. Sometimes purchasing an individual bottle of water can cost you the same as it would be to purchase a 6 or 12 pack ahead of time. Another advantage of bringing your own snacks: less time spent stopping at gas stations along the way!
- Consider renting a condo or house. This tip may save you money in a few ways. First, you will typically have room for more travelers. Invite another family to go along with you and split the rental price in half! Also, when you have your own kitchen, you will be able to make your own meals instead of going out to eat every time. Get some bacon and eggs and have yourself a nice breakfast. Grab some meat, cheese, condiments for some delicious sandwiches for lunch. Don’t forget the beer and wine too! Check out AirBNB and VRBO for some great rentals to choose from for your next trip.
- If possible, plan your vacation days from Sunday to Thursday. Rates for hotels, house/condo rentals, and attractions are typically the least expensive during these days. Also, plan your vacations in the “off-season.” Want to make a trip to Miami? The best time to go there is in the summer. Cruises are mostly the least expensive in January and September. Disney is typically the most economical in Late January to Early February and then the month of September after Labor Day. Thinking Europe? Pick dates from October to April.
- Stay off the “beaten path.” If you are making plans to visit a large city, try looking at accommodations outside the city for the best prices. Just make sure to do your research to check that these accommodations are still in a safe area.
- Become a frequent flyer and use your discounts. Signing up to join an airline’s frequent flyer doesn’t cost you a dime. Even if you are not flying all the time, you are leaving these miles on the table if you have not joined. Also, consider getting a rewards credit card. There are hundreds of credit card reward programs to choose from. Fly a lot? Sign up for a credit card that will reward you with more frequent flyer miles. Disney Fans? Apply for A Disney Rewards Visa Credit Card. In addition to accumulating rewards to use towards a Disney Vacation, you also receive access to special character meet-and-greets and discounts on merchandise. Don’t forget to check your AAA membership or credit union to see if you are entitled to any discounts through them.
- Do your research. Check all the popular travel sites such as Travelocity, Priceline, Expedia, etc. to compare rates. Make sure to pay attention to the fine print though. Sometimes cancellation policies can be much more restrictive on these sites. Also, make sure to check the official resort, hotel, o cruise website as sometimes the lowest rates will only be there.
- Check your auto insurance policy before renting a car. Did you know that most car insurance policies transfer over to your car rental? If you are planning to rent a car on you trip, check with your insurance company ahead of time to see if your current coverage transfers over. If it does, you will not have to purchase the add-on insurance from the car rental company.
- Save money on airfare. Old thinking said that the best time to purchase airfare was on a Tuesday. However, current research shows that the best time to purchase airfare is on a Saturday or Sunday with Sunday being the best bet. Google has a great application for finding the best rates on airfare. The travel industry is predicting that this year flights from the United States to Africa will be some of the lowest ever. Safari, anyone?
I hope you will be able to put some of these tips to use when planning your next vacation. The travel industry is always changing but these tips should help you stay within your travel budget every time. Most importantly, make sure to pack your sunscreen and have a great time!