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Thursday 24 May 2012

How to Vacation on a Budget

How to Vacation on a Budget

Summer is right around the corner, which means summer vacations can't be too far behind! Taking a vacation does not mean you have to take a break from looking for great deals, in fact there are lots of ways you can take a vacation with the whole family without going broke. Check out some of the great ideas below. 


Make a Budget


Figure out just how much money you can afford to spend on your vacation. Set aside some for travel expenses such as hotels, airfare, gas for the car, food, and any admission prices you will have to pay (for museums, parks, tours, etc). Then figure out how much you have left to spend on souviners and other little things along the way. Write this all down and remind yourself of this along the way. A good way to make sure you don't spend too much money along the way is to pay only in cash. Obviously, you want to make sure your money is safe, so don't keep it all in one place in case of an emergency, but this is a great way to really keep track of how much you spend on your vacation (a great tip for daily expenses too). 


Book Through Discount Travel Sites


If you are flying, staying in a hotel or even renting a car, you can find some great deals on the discount travel sites. Book through sites such as CheapOair, CheapOstay, Expedia, Jetblue, Travelocity, CheapTickets, and Orbitz to get discounts on hotel rooms, airfare, and maybe even car rental. There are always great promotions from these sites. Looking for a resort or all inclusive hotel? You can still book through these sites, sometimes getting free perks when you book! Check out all the travel deals Coupon Monster has to offer.  

Plan Ahead


This is perhaps the single most important thing you can do. When you are going on vacation do your research. Know what you will need for your trip. Know what you want to do before you go. Plan out what museums, parks, tours, and other destinations you want to see, and figure out the cost of admission. Knowing what you want to do and how much it will cost in advance is a great way to keep to your budget and to maximize your time. Of course you want to leave room for flexibility in case you discover a hidden jem along the way. Planning in advance can help here too though, as you will still have an idea what your other destinations cost so you can adjust accordingly. You can also find great deals on vacation excursions at our partnerstore Viator. Viator has amazing deals on everything from Power Passes (admission to multiple destinations in top cities across the world), as well as tours and once in a lifetime adventures (learn scuba diving off the Bahamas!). You can visit their store by clicking here.  You can also look for gift certificates for local resturants through our partner Restaurant.com; they offer you discounted prices, for example $4 for a $25 certificate, for a number of local restaurants. This could be a great option for helping you keep on budget!  


Make a List of What You Will Need


This goes back to planning ahead. What will you need for your vacation? A new camera? Sunscreen? A winter jacket? Figure it out ahead of time and stock up. Visit the travel bins at Target, Walmart and Walgreens to get your essential items at a low cost. Make sure you have enough toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, shaving cream, pain killers and other  toiletries  so you aren't paying inflated prices at the hotels store. It also gives you the chance to make sure you have all the clothes you will need. Check out the normal weather, make sure you pack accordingly. Sweatshirts, shorts, jackets, hats or caps, shoes, swimwear, sunglasses--essential items for many trips that you don't want to find yourself buying on your next trip. Making a list can help you avoid an expensive emergency purchase. 


Make Your Own Food


No matter where you are traveling you can at the very least provide your own snacks for the day. If you are taking a road trip pack up a cooler or a bag with some delicious, affordable snacks. This is also a great way to make sure you eat a little healthier than the standard fare at amusement parks and museums. Pretzels, veggies, nuts, juice boxes for the kids, water, granola bars, all great items to stuff in your bag for a quick bite during the day and easy enough to shove in the back of the car. Even if you are traveling by plane you can stop by the local grocery store and pick up a few things. Breakfast and lunch are probably the easiest meals of the day to prepare in your hotel room. Making some good old PB&J sandwiches is easy enough no matter where you are staying, and if your room has a mini fridge you can pick up some other options for your sandwiches. Pick up some cereal or fruit if your hotel doesn't have a free breakfast option. If  you are taking a longer vacation or traveling with kids, it might be worth investing in a hotel room with a kitchenette or renting a condo so you can store perishable food items, or even make a dinner now and then.  


Keep It Simple


If you are looking for an easy vacation sometimes you can't do better than camping or visiting friends and family out of state. Both of these options keep things simple and provide  you with a minimum of expenses. If you are camping for the first time see if you can borrow supplies from a friend or family member. This will get your family closer to nature, rule out most admission costs and allow you to save a good amoung of money on souviners and food. Visiting family?  If you can't stay with them you can at least save on food and transportation while beneffiting from all the local knowledge they will have--does the Art musuem have a free day? is there a fabulous out of the way resturant you would never think to try?


Keep the Kids Entertained


Stock up on puzzle books, coloring books, batteries for video games, and other fun, portable items to keep the kids busy on the trip. Whether you are flying or driving, your kids are going to need something to do during the trip, so make sure you have enough items to keep them busy. You can stop by your local dollar store to pick up a bunch of budget friendly games, puzzles and coloring books as well as crayons or markers. This is a great idea especially if your kids are prone to leaving things behind. Bring a deck of cards along as well, this will keep the whole family busy during any down time. 


These ideas should help you save some money on your next vacation, making it more enjoyable for everyone. Afterall, no one wants to come home from a vacation only to find out that they have completely blown their budget for the next two months. Don't forget you can get deals on just about everything you will need for your trip by shopping Coupon Monster. Our affiliates are having lots of sales on all the summer clothes and shoes you will need. Do you have any other money saving tips? Let us know, we would love to hear from you! 

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