Last month, we discussed saving money for your summer vacation. Now, let’s talk about how you can make the most out of that money while you’re away. When planning your vacation, it’s easy to get carried away by the excitement. But what’s the point of a relaxing vacation if you come home with unexpected expenses or, even worse, debt? After many years of planning family vacations, I’ve learned several strategies to keep travel spending under control while still enjoying time away.
1. Make a budget
The first step of any vacation should be calculating what you can afford to spend. It might not be the most exciting part of planning your getaway, but it’s a crucial one! When creating your budget, be realistic about what you can afford and what things will cost. Of course, we all hope things will be less expensive, but underestimating will only hurt your budget in the long run. Once you’ve determined what you can comfortably spend, make a list of places you would like to visit and price out the larger expenses like transportation, lodging, and activities. Then, see which destination you can afford before figuring out the smaller details. Taking the time to budget your trip will not only help you feel more secure in your finances but could also reveal some cool experiences or places you may have missed without researching first.
2. Research, research, research
Speaking of research, it will be your greatest asset when planning a fun yet budget-friendly vacation. One area where research can save you money is on hotels and flights. The prices of hotel rooms and flights fluctuate throughout the year based on “high” and “low” seasons, so when you travel can make a huge difference in your bottom line. Waiting to buy at lower prices might mean pushing summer trips to the end of August or early autumn to take advantage of low-season prices. Also, consider booking tickets to museums or local attractions ahead of time as some tourist destinations will offer an online discount; others may offer tourist passes that bundle multiple attractions and local transportation.
3. Pack snacks
If you’re anything like my family, sometimes you end up being busier while on vacation than at home. This can mean spending a lot of time on your feet and working up an appetite. If you don’t pay attention, your meal bills can quickly add up between popular restaurants, local delicacies, or road trip snacks to pass the time. Throwing some of your favourite snacks in your luggage or stopping by a grocery store away from touristy areas can cut down on your food costs and keep your vacation party from getting “hangry.”
4. Breakfast at the hotel
Another way you can save money on food is by being smart about the food offered at your hotel. Avoid the expensive snacks in your room and mini-bar (and make sure the kids know to leave them alone, too), but take advantage of the continental breakfast if your hotel has one. It might mean getting up a bit earlier than you’d like, but a big, free meal is worth it. It also never hurts to ask if guests get a discount at the hotel restaurant or if there are other special perks. Even small things, like using the hotel water fountain to fill up a few bottles, can cut back on costs.
5. Rethink how you vacation
We’ve gone over many ways to stretch your dollars for a vacation, but sometimes, no matter how you shift things, the numbers don’t add up. With most travel restrictions lifted, a lot of people just wanted to get back to normal. But with rising prices, ‘normal’ might still need to look a little different.
If you can’t make a family trip work this year, consider making some new family traditions. Consider taking a road trip to visit relatives instead of flying or see if everyone can meet in the middle and share an adventure. If big trips are completely out of the budget, consider taking a day trip. You’d be surprised how many interesting things exist within a couple of hours of your home.
If you still want a night away, consider camping for inexpensive accommodation and a whole experience in and of itself. Just make sure you don’t get sucked into buying all sorts of expensive new gear. Instead, consider buying camping supplies second-hand or borrowing from friends or family. Then, if you enjoy the experience, you can save up and invest in high-quality gear for next year.
If debt and interest payments are slowing down your summer plans, it might be time to contact a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT). A LIT can help you renegotiate your terms with creditors and make your payments more manageable. Book your free, no-judgment consultation and start the road to debt freedom today.