Who doesn’t love a good ol’ summer vacation? Maybe a road trip, trek to the beach or the mountains, or jaunt to visit grandma and grandpa. Maybe somewhere you’ve never been before or somewhere you go every year when the weather gets warm.
As a kid, there is something magical about the day that school lets out and the possibilities for the coming months are endless. As an adult, things usually look a little different and summer vacations come with a bit more planning, scheduling, and budgeting. But, just because you’re breaking away from the routine, you don’t necessarily have to break the bank!
Just in time for your summer getaway, here are 3 tips to save you money on your vacation:
This one is obviously very dependent on where you are going and who you’re going with, but nowadays we are not locked into the motel and hotel scene when we travel! Now is the time to get creative! The world is all abuzz about Airbnb, an amazing alternative to a room number and key card, that allows you to rent out a room, apartment, or house for often less than a hotel would cost. It gives you a unique opportunity to embrace the area’s culture more deeply as you take on the role of a local, walking out a front door every morning.
Also, since (hopefully) you’ll be somewhere with good weather, consider camping! A few years ago, my husband and I desperately wanted to go to the Virgin Islands. It was a lofty goal, and we were definitely on a strict budget, but once we found out that you can camp there, we knew we could make it happen!
We borrowed a little backpacking tent from a friend, packed our hammocks (which we ended up snoozing in more than the tent since it was so dang hot), and spent something like $40 a night to sleep steps away from the beach and hear the ocean crash all night long. It was magical and unforgettable and way more affordable than the resorts on the other side of the island!
Every time I travel I am always amazed by the amount of money that ends up going toward the basic necessity of eating and drinking! It is easy to go into your vacation and not really factor in the reality that you’re not going to have access to your kitchen and will be required to find food out and about, wherever you may be. In order to make the financial burden of eating a little less extreme, there are a few things you can do.
You can bring food. My husband and I went on a trip where we literally packed a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter in one of our suitcases along with some nuts, granola bars, and other little snacks. Every morning before we left for our adventures we packed lunches! This eliminated one meal a day that we had to pay for.
We also carried reusable water bottles. There are a number of establishments that will fill up your water bottles for free (Starbucks, anyone?) and, of course, you can often find water fountains. Buying water might not be necessary at all! (Make sure you’re in a place where drinking the water is safe.)
I have also been known to stop at convenience stores, gas stations, and the like to buy microwave meals. Hotels usually either have microwaves in the rooms or in the lobby and you can have a DIY “room service” party with your family or friends for way less dough.
Last but not least, when you book your hotel be sure to ask if they offer a free continental breakfast. If you can swing that plus your packed lunch, you may be able to order that extra appetizer at dinner with a little less guilt.
I am a sucker for souvenirs. I adore mementos to commemorate a fun trip; something I can put on a shelf that will catch my eye and make me smile. Of course, it is easy to get carried away. But, I have found that I feel loads better about my trip purchases if I just decide before I leave home what my souvenir budget is and then bring that amount of money in cash. (This also would be a great discipline for kids!)
If you have the exact amount you can shell out tucked into your pocket, you’ll not only be able to keep tabs on what you’re spending; you’ll also feel a little bit more freedom to buy that tote bag that you really want but don’t know whether it is actually worth $30. If it’s in your predetermined budget, you’ll feel comfortable with the splurge!
I’m a huge advocate of travel and fervently believe that the memories you make are worth every penny you spend, but I also will never miss the chance to save a buck! So who’s with me?
Bon Voyage, friends!
If you need some suggestions on places to travel, be sure to catch our recent podcast episode, Vacation Ideas: Why We Want to See These Unique Places Now – 042.