People go on holidays to indulge, spending money more freely than normal, but if you aren’t careful, those costs can wreak havoc on your personal finances. If your budget is already limited, you might think a vacation is out of the question because even a modest trip can be costly—after all, the average solo trip costs $1,145, while a family of four trip costs $4,580.
Regardless of whether you’re attempting to travel as cheaply as possible or simply trying to bring your spending habits under control, there are several tactics you can apply to cut costs while still having a great time.
Make a Budget for Your Vacation
Planning for a vacation is the first step towards saving for one. Plan where you want to travel, where you want to stay, and what you want to do while you’re there before you even consider your finances. Keep a running track of how much travel, lodging, meals, and activities will cost while you’re investigating.
Take the whole projected cost and note it on your calendar for your intended departure date once you’ve arranged a hazy itinerary.
Divide your cost by the time you need to save and multiply by the number of weeks you have before you want to travel. You now know how much money you’ll need to set aside each week in order to take your dream vacation.
Consider this “future spending” rather than “saving” or “depriving oneself of current enjoyment,” a technique that Financial Advisors believe is more emotionally successful.
Save On Cruises
Cruises are a reasonably priced vacation option, but once you’re on board, they’ll want to upsell you on everything. Some cruise lines include a beverage surcharge. Excursions from the port are exorbitantly priced.
Some organizations may sell you the same excursions, but instead of 40 people on a bus, you will be in a van with 20 people. You get to see more while spending a third less. The casino and the spa are the most popular places for people to overspend on cruises. You must have the determination to save money on cruises.
Ask for discounts
If you or someone going with you is a veteran or active military member, you may be entitled to discounts automatically. Always inquire about a senior discount if you are 50 years old or older.
Are you taking your children on a trip? Inquire about child or student pricing at attractions, and look for eateries that provide free children’s meals on specific weeknights.
Discounts are available through AARP, AAA, and other groups. Some hotels will provide discounts to seniors or disabled tourists, so ask if anyone in your party qualifies.
Another tip: Some museums have reciprocity agreements, so if you’re a member of one in your hometown, you might be eligible for discounted admission to another. Before you travel, check out what museum associations your local attraction is a member of.
Shop around or barter for a better deal
Americans are accustomed to fixed prices; citizens in other nations are more accustomed to haggling over goods and services. Make a counter-offer before you agree to buy that memento or sign up for that trip. You might be able to negotiate a lower price with a dealer.
Likewise, don’t choose the first restaurant, shop, or tour company you come across. Take a look around. The $10 T-shirt at the first store could cost $7 in the second. The price of a burrito lunch may drop by a dollar or two as you travel away from the main tourist area.
Before you sign up for that snorkeling trip or city tour, get prices from a few different tour providers. It may not always work, but when you find the best-priced option, your comparison searching will pay off.
Order groceries or go to the store
On a Disney vacation, we ordered groceries online and had them delivered the day we arrived. While we paid more than we would have for a regular shopping trip, it was still less expensive to prepare breakfasts and snacks in the morning than it would have been to dine out every day.
We also ordered a few cases of water and put bottles in the freezer to take with us on the road. (They also doubled as an ice pack for our fresh fruit, yogurt, and other on-the-go munchies.) That meant we didn’t have to pay $5 for a bottle of water while the sun-scorched us in Florida.
If you’re staying in a hotel, have breakfast in your room and prepare a lunch to take with you, then save your dining-out money for dinner. Consider eating lunch out wherever you’re exploring and cooking a cheap meal when you come back to the property at night if you’re staying in a rental house with a full kitchen.
You will save money by preparing some of your own meals, and you will be able to better regulate your daily calorie intake.
Look for free Wi-Fi
It can be costly to use the internet at your hotel or on your cruise ship. However, if you seek hard enough, there are plenty of free Wi-Fi spots to be found. Sign up for your hotel’s loyalty program; many of the major chains provide members with free internet access. Grab a cup of coffee at a café that provides free Wi-Fi to its patrons.
Inquire about free Wi-Fi at the tourist information center, your hotel, or perhaps a museum or any other tourist attraction spot. They’re probably used to answering that query and can point you in the appropriate route.
Make a phone call schedule
If you’re going on a cruise or leaving the country and want to contact home, you could face exorbitant charges. Before you depart, call your carrier to see if you can prepay for extended coverage or if there is a daily-rate foreign plan. It can be more cost-effective to switch to a plan that includes free or low-cost international texting and data usage.
Internet-based calling apps like WhatsApp or similar services are the cheapest solutions for international calling if you have access to Wi-Fi. Depending on who you’re calling, where you’re calling from, and who you’re calling to, each has advantages and disadvantages.
Bring some snacks with you
Nothing irritates me more than spending four times as much for a bag of pretzels at the airport or in the queue for an attraction. You can save money on your trip by bringing snacks with you, such as granola and protein bars, so you don’t have to pay for convenience when hunger strikes.
Don’t think that snacks are solely for kids. Make sure you have enough food to last the entire day. Put kid-friendly comfort foods in your day pack, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or packs of goldfish crackers, etc. so you’re always prepared.
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