No matter how big or small, planning a vacation will require some budgeting. Once you’ve saved for a while and transferred your vacation fund to your checking account for easy access while traveling, there are ways to get the most for your money without skimping on the fun. Check out some recommendations for saving vs. spending on vacation.
Ways to save:
- Be your own travel agent: With the wealth of information available on the internet, and with most travel agents not charging a fee – there’s no need to spend extra vacation funds on a travel agent. Use a travel agent that doesn’t charge a fee or check out travel websites to compare airfares, hotel rates, and find package deals to save money. It’s a very simple way to save on domestic or international travel to popular destinations.
- Go during the off season: If your trip isn’t restricted by kids’ school breaks or other factors, traveling at off-peak times can save you big. It’s no secret that airlines and hotels raise prices during high-volume travel times, so consider taking your trip when tourist season isn’t in full swing. Whether that means touring New England in late fall when it’s a little cooler, or opting for a tropical getaway a few weeks before or after typical spring break time, the money you save on airfare and lodging will be worth it.
- Consider alternatives to a hotel room: In many destinations it’s often cheaper to rent a condo or cabin than it is to book a hotel room. Plus, this option will give you much more space – a huge bonus if you’re traveling with family or a group. You’ll have to do without the common hotel amenities like maid service, complimentary breakfast and toiletries, but you’ll save even more by buying food and cooking your own meals.
What to splurge on:
- Local fare: One of the best parts of traveling is experiencing the local cuisine. Skip the fast food places or chain restaurants you can go to anytime and get recommendations on local hot spots online, from friends, or from people around town. Spending money on authentic regional food will not only help give you a taste for the area’s culture, but you might also find a new favorite dish! This is especially true if you’re traveling abroad.
- Group tours and packages: Experiencing popular local destinations and activities is another can’t-miss part of a vacation. Consider splurging a little on activity packages or group tours available through the local tourist board or resort you’re staying at. Specialized tours can often take you to hidden gems you might not have discovered on your own. Plus, the price usually includes transportation costs and sometimes even meals, both expenses that would cost more if you paid for them separately.
- Centralized location: If you have the extra room in your budget, consider spending a little more to secure lodging near where the action is. This doesn’t mean you have to use half your allotted funds to get a five-star hotel directly on the beach, but staying somewhere within a reasonable walking distance of the main attractions your visiting will be a nice treat. Plus, you’ll save money on cab fares or a rental car which might add up to more than the extra amount you’re paying for lodging anyway.
Decide what’s most important to you and your family
The most important thing is to leave your vacation with great memories, not a checking account with a low balance. The key is to figure out which elements of your trip are most important to you or your family and putting aside extra funds for those, while looking for ways to save on others. With a little bit of research, an eye on your budget, and mobile banking to track your balance while you’re away, there’s no need to miss out on the memorable experiences that make vacations so worthwhile.
Image courtesy of artur84, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
sponsored in part by Citizens Bank