When you’re traveling, the last thing you want to have to think about is saving money. After all, you’re on vacation, right? That means that you just want to kick back, relax, and have fun!
Unfortunately, “kicking back, relaxing, and having fun” can have consequences that follow you long after your vacation is over.
Learn how to save money when you’re traveling so that you’re not paying off your vacation for the rest of the year–which will ultimately make it a far more relaxing experience.
How to Save Money When You’re Traveling
Save before your vacation, and pay cash instead of using credit cards.
Most hotels will, if asked, take a debit card instead of a credit card–just realize that they may place a “hold” on your card above the amount of your actual purchase. That hold should be released within a few days of your departure. Don’t have that much extra in your account? Go ahead and use a credit card; just make sure you pay it off as soon as the bill comes in.
Consider staying in a condo. If you’re traveling with a group or need at least two hotel rooms (for example, if you have more than a couple of kids), you’ll actually discover that condos are cheaper than hotels, and you’ll have the run of an entire house instead of just a couple of small rooms. Staying in a condo, however, has another advantage: you can prepare your own meals instead of having to eat out the entire time you’re gone. If you’re in a hotel room, your dining-in choices are probably limited to what you can fit in a microwave; but in a condo, you can cook almost the same things you could at home. To this end, meal plan before you go down: plan meals that are easy to fix with limited supplies, but that are family favorites, so that you won’t feel like you’re being deprived.
Have a specific meal that you’re really anticipating eating out while you’re on vacation (for example, seafood while you’re on your beach vacation)? Try making that a lunch stop instead of dinner. Often, restaurants offer the same menu at lunch for a significantly reduced price.
Travel off-season. It’s hard to juggle kids’ school schedules, work schedules, and other commitments; but if you can take your vacation over a long weekend (or take a day or two off of school to create your own), you might save a lot of money on your lodging expenses.
Allot souvenir money for each individual. If you have kids, give theirs to them in cash (it will keep you from forgetting which kid has already spent their budget and which one hasn’t). Knowing how much money you have to spend on souvenirs will help decrease impulse purchases and remind you to prioritize so you’re getting the mementos you really want instead of the ones that you’ll stick on a shelf and not remember where they came from in six months.
There is one catch to this: the kids get to spend their souvenir money however they want–no arguments from you (though you can quietly remind them of how much of their vacation is left or point out how expensive an item is). If they want to blow it all on a giant stuffed giraffe, then they can have the giraffe (as long as you have a way to get it home). It might not be what you would buy, but it’s the souvenir they want–and letting them make their own choices will ultimately make them happier than anything you could pick out. Have a disappointed kid with no money left over toward the middle or end of the trip? Don’t bail them out! They need to learn financial responsibility, too.
Clear your cookies before you book. If you’ve been searching for a deal on travel expenses for a while (rental car, airfare, hotel or condo rental), you may have noticed that after a while, they stared inching up.
Before you commit, clear your cookies or check the prices from another device. Sometimes, websites track your interest and start to raise the price after you’ve looked a couple of times. It’s at least worth a second look!
Vacation doesn’t have to mean blowing your budget for the entire year. You can have just as much fun on a budget as you can with unlimited spending money–you just have to keep your ultimate goals in mind.
Who knows? With the money you save, you might even be able to add another day off work–and that’s definitely worth a few restrictions along the way.