Well ladies, summer has finally arrived! Now that Memorial Day has come and gone, most kids are out of school, the sun is beaming on our backs, and the scent of charcoal is in the air–summer has begun. During these tight economic times, we still want to travel and enjoy the summer. Here are some tips that my family has used and some that I found from others:
1. Set a realistic budget on the amount you can actually spend on vacation. This will determine what type of trip you can take. If you want to go to Disney World, but your budget says go to Myrtle Beach, listen. Factor in the cost of transportation, food, entertainment, shopping (if you desire), hotel accomodations, and just in case money. Ask these questions: What type of trip do I want to take? How much do I need to save each month/week to be able to pay for the trip? How will I pay for the trip? (cash is better!) Will I be “in the hole” when I get back?
2. Search and compare. Use on-line sources such as, www.priceline.com, www.hotels.com, www.expedia.com, just to name a few. There you can find information on car rentals, hotel, airfare, etc. Just be sure you read the fine print. Some do not offer refunds on certain deals. In addition, if there is a problem and money needs to be refunded, most likely you will have to go through the online source which usually takes longer. Many people refer to book directly through the hotel. Many hotels will match and sometimes offer more of a discount.
3. Use your discounts. AAA members, government employees, AARP, and credit card companies, just to name a few, offer great discounts to clients.
4. Pack food. Shop for food and snacks before you leave home. With two small children, this is a necessity for me! Avoid shopping in convenient stores, hotels, amusement parks, anywhere that will cost you an arm and a leg. Think about what you could have bought with that $3.oo you spent on that soda! If you are attending a place where they do not let you bring in outside food, plan for the cost. It still boggles my mind how much places charge for some things!
5. Eat your big meal at lunch and go light on dinner. Many places offer the same food at cheaper prices during lunch hours.
6. Stay in accomodations that offer free breakfast and that have a refrigerator to store snacks.
7. Go to less known destinations. Try visiting place that aren’t a huge tourist destination. Research and find those areas that are just as entertaining, but don’t carry the huge price tag.
8. Travel during the offseason or on the outskirts of a popular season. You will save big in the area of transportation and hotels. Avoid huge crowds and long lines by going the right time of year. Many locals may even be friendlier and you may recieve better service because they don’t have the stress of dealing with lots of people.
9. Be flexible with your travel dates. It may be cheaper to go during the week, instead of the weekend. Also, many prices are inflated due to local events. It may be better to wait after the event to over.
Additional sources: http://singleparents.about.com/od/cuttingcosts/ss/save_vacation_4.htm