Affordable vacation planning
With summer being so short and winter so long, there is understandable pressure to get out there and make the most of your summer vacation. Somehow, “making the most” of your summer leisure time is often equated with spending money.
“It is common for people to dip into debt to enjoy their summer holidays. They justify the spending by saying that it’s a one-time expense or that they deserve the break after they work hard all year. While this is true, accumulating debt to fund your fun with interest charges attached doesn’t add up,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“So like with other areas of your household budget, you need to plan ahead. You need to set a spending limit and then find creative ways to get your money to go further,” says Schwartz.
Here are some vacation planning tips to help you stay on budget.
Do you clip coupons to save on groceries? Adopt the same mindset in order to save money on anything from dining to attractions when you are travelling. When it comes to attractions, you can often save money by pre-purchasing tickets online.
What about Fido?
Is pet care part of your travel expenses? Seek out a pet-friendly hotel. There is an extra charge usually, but it tends to be much lower than the cost of boarding your pet.
Go off the beaten path
Wherever possible, avoid “touristy” spots (i.e. shops and restaurants in high-trafficked tourist areas). You’ll be paying a premium on everything, from sunscreen to water to dining.
You can often score a better deal if you book hotel and flights together. If you need a car rental too, that can increase your discounts.
Are you flying to your vacation destination? If you can be flexible with your flights, you will pay far less. For instance, a direct flight is usually far more expensive than one with one (or more) connections. Red eye flights or flights with overnight layovers are much cheaper too. It’s worth snoozing on an airport chair for a few hours for the savings.
Motel vs hotel
With big chain hotels, you are often paying a premium for the name. Seek out smaller motels, while they don’t have all the same amenities, they can offer you a clean place to sleep for a lower price. Check out travel reviews before you go and don’t be afraid to ask to see your room before you pay.
Eat bigger meals early in the day
Make breakfast or lunch your big meal because these meals are less expensive than dinner. You’ll also be less likely to spend money on snacks.
Not only does travelling light simplify your life when you are travelling, it can cut costs if you are flying, where you usually have to pay for luggage. Pack a few essential pieces of clothing and bring a bar of laundry soap to do wash in your hotel bathroom if you must.
Even if you are travelling by car, lightening your load will improve your gas mileage.
Don’t use your cellphone
Keeping in touch with family and friends is important while you are travelling, but depending on your plan, using your cellphone to do so can be expensive. Use hotel computers or go to an internet café, which is cheaper.
Early bird specials
Is dining out while travelling your big treat? Look into restaurants that offer fixed menu or early bird pricing. To entice people to come in before the rush, many restaurants offer specials for full meals at lower prices.