It’s about that time of year when we start daydreaming at work about basking in the sun on the beach while drinking a pina colada. Then, we wake up and realize that we need to start saving some money to make that summer vacation happen! Vacations can be a financial drain, and I think that you should splurge when it comes to your vacation, as long as you can save up for it and pay cash. After all, you do deserve some rest and relaxation from the grueling grind of work. So, here are five tips that I’ve found to help me save money when planning a vacation.
- Travel on off-peak times. The best off-peak times to travel during the warm months are before June 20th and late August through September for sub-tropical areas. The official start of summer is June 20th, so that is when airlines, hotels, and cruise lines start to jack up their prices for the peak season. If you can travel in May or early June, you might be able to find better rates for airfare and hotel stays. Try to avoid Memorial Day and Independence Day. These are hot times to travel, and you’ll pay much more to travel near these dates. You can find great deals on cruises during the peak Atlantic hurricane season. I know what you’re thinking. Why would you want to take the risk of a hurricane wiping out your vacation plans, but the risk may be worth the cash you’ll save. Consider buying travel insurance if you travel in the Caribbean during these times that will cover you if you get rained out by a hurricane.
- Look for vacation rentals, rather than hotel rooms. If you have a decent sized family or you’ll be travelling with friends and/or extended family, I definitely recommend checking into vacation rentals. My favorite places to check for these are ‘reCraigslist, and Vacation Rentals By Owner. If you split the house or condo with another family, you can usually find a place to stay for $400 to $700 per family per week! That’s a great value when you consider the cost it would be to rent two or three hotel rooms for an entire week. But, there are more benefits than just the weekly rate. You’ll get a full kitchen, so this means you can go to the local supermarket and buy a bunch of food for breakfast, lunch, and a few dinners. You’ll save a ton of money rather than eating out every day. Plus, parents will get their own rooms, which is nice for privacy on your vacation!
- Visit areas that don’t thrive on tourism. If you go somewhere that depends on tourism as their main source of income, you’re going to pay a higher premium to stay there. I know that it’s tough to find an exotic location that doesn’t thrive on tourism, but places like Costa Rica, Eastern Europe, and coastal areas in Brazil are more affordable than you think.
- When at all possible, try to avoid eating out! I know this is tough, and part of being on vacation is not worrying about cooking or cleaning. But, typically my wife and I try to find a place to stay that will at least include breakfast in the price. Then, for lunch we usually try to eat light, and pack sandwiches, fruit, and granola bars to snack on. We would rather spend more money on dining out for dinner than spend so much money on breakfast and lunch.
- Go All-inclusive if it’s offered. Some of you may disagree with me, but we tried an all-inclusive resort for our honeymoon, and I think we spent much less money than we could have if we went on a 7 day cruise or trip to Europe. We stayed a resort in Mexico that included all meals, adult drinks, and some excursions. The simple fact that we could eat and drink as much as we wanted and whenever we wanted saved us tons of money. Plus, we had our flights packaged in with the deal along with transportation to and from the airport. If we had done all of it al-a-carte, I really think we would have spent more on the trip. I’m not saying that it’s always a better deal, but again, if you price it during an off-peak time, you may find that it’s the way to go.
Do any of you have any more tips for ways to save on travel this summer? If you do, we’d love to hear them. Drop us a comment in the commenting section.