It’s spring – a great time to plan your upcoming summer family vacation. Vacations, whether short or long, are a vital part of a balanced life, providing welcome relief from the stress and monotony of the daily grind. On the other hand, vacations themselves have the potential to be stressful as you plan and calculate the expenses, or fail to plan at all and end up paying for it months later.
You may have already ruled out a family vacation this year because you don’t think you can afford it. Maybe you can’t, and in that case, there are great ways to relax and ‘get away’ right at home. But the chances are you can actually afford a fun vacation without going over-budget or maxing out your credit just by finding ways to save money on necessary expenses like food and lodging. Here are a few ideas:
Take advantage of Reward Membership cards from hotels. One of the biggest expenses during any vacation is lodging, and if you don’t plan ahead, you can end up spending several hundred dollars a night or having another bad experience with a ‘cheap’ motel. Many hotel chains offer rewards for frequent customers, ranging from discounts to accumulated points towards free hotel rooms. Choose a hotel chain you already know and like so you can be sure your stay is predictable and enjoyable every time.
Shop online for discounted rooms. Also check out sites such as priceline.com which list extremely discounted rooms in unnamed hotel chains near your destination. Hotel chains use these sites to fill rooms that would otherwise remain empty. Using such a site comes with some risk since you won’t know the name of the chain until after your pay, but rating systems and feedback on these sites can help you determine if the hotel is reputable. Sometimes rooms are available for as low as $50 a night!
Bring snacks for traveling and for down-time in the hotel. You can spend a lot of money at gas stations, vending machines, and hotel mini-bars if you fail to hit the grocery store ahead of time for snacks. If you will be doing a lot of walking, pack a backpack with healthy, energizing snacks so you aren’t forced to buy expensive food from malls, venues, and curb-side vendors.
Request a hotel room with a refrigerator and a microwave and save even more money on food. If you aren’t staying somewhere with a free continental breakfast included, it’s a smart idea to pick up some milk and cereal and avoid the expensive hotel food. Be even more frugal and pick up some lunch meat and bread so you can make sandwiches to take with you on the go. By saving money on most of your meals, you can afford to enjoy a few special dinners at favorite restaurants.
Regardless of your lifestyle, affording a vacation is still within your reach if you are careful to plan ahead and save on your basic expenses. Without the stress of overspending, you will enjoy your vacation that much more as you relax and make lifetime memories.
You may also want to learn more tips from this comprehensive list of 50 budget traveling tips by MoneyNing.com.