Last Minute Considerations for an Affordable Vacation
Everyone knows that planning ahead for just about anything will save money, minimizes headaches, and even maximizes our time. But in a society that prizes spontaneity over conformity and rules, regardless of whether those rules are a tried and true method for getting us what we really want, planning ahead is rarely given a first, let alone a second thought.
Major vacation-related expenses include lodging, food, travel and entertainment. Find a few suggestions below on how to minimize the cost of your next vacation so you can come home refreshed and rejuvenated rather than stressed, strained, and struggling to pay your bills.
Ideas for Minimizing Vacation Lodging Expenses
If yours is like most households, you will want to quickly look through these ideas before heading out the door for your trip to the coast, the mountains, the sun, the snow, or wherever you are hoping to find relaxation, rejuvenation and freedom.
When headed to a popular destination with its own on-site hotels and resorts, you obviously know that off-site lodging will generally be much more affordable. Just make sure that your lodging has free (or inexpensive) and frequent shuttles to the park or resort. If you are thinking about using ride share services, use their fare estimators to understand how much you would likely pay to get to or from the park using their drivers.
Remember that staying at a “resort” often comes with a daily resort fee not included in the advertised price. This fee can amount to several hundred dollars over a week’s time whether you use the resort facilities or not.
If you are driving to your destination, make sure you find lodging that offers free parking options. Nobody likes paying $30 or more a day to park a vehicle plus $5 to $10 per tip every time the parking attendant brings your vehicle out of the parking lot.
Ideas for Minimizing Vacation Meal Expenses
You will spend at least 50% less for every meal you can supply from a grocery store rather than a restaurant. Look for lodging that comes with a kitchenette, including a small refrigerator and microwave.
Staying at a hotel that offers a free breakfast, saving you $15 to $20 per person per day, could easily save you $500 over the course of a week for a family of four.
If you do go out to eat, schedule in some time to return to your hotel room so you can ask for a “to go” box for any leftovers. If you are going to pay the high price of eating out, you may as well get twice the meals out of the experience.
Snacks and treats while on vacation can be one of the most memorable parts of your trip. It might be fudge on the coast, ice cream at the beach or themed candies at a park. Rather than saying “no” to all such delights, you will want to stay open to such experiences. If you end up spending money on opportunities of unexpected sweetness such as these, consider replacing your later meal with something light and healthy back at the hotel. If you can’t find a grocery store nearby, a gas station convenience store may have some affordable deli sandwiches you might consider.
If you are an Amazon Prime member and are staying at a hotel without a grocery store close by, you might consider ordering a few boxes of cereal and snack bars to be delivered to your hotel room the day after you arrive. Besides saving you money on your travel budget, you will also save a lot of space in your baggage or in your car.
Ideas for Minimizing Vacation Travel Expenses
For families of three or more, traveling by vehicle rather than air will generally be more affordable. Obviously, it will take more time and, in the case of cross country or trans-ocean trip, may not even be an option.
If you truly value spontaneity, you may even skip the year-long travel planning and take advantage of last minute deals to places unknown. You will need to be flexible on your schedule and destination, so have your passport ready and your boss on standby alert just in case you want to leave town in a hurry.
If you have any sort of home-based business, look for opportunities to meet with current or potential clients or vendors. If you can do so and can keep the receipts, your own portion of the travel expenses to and from your destination might be considered a business expense that you will not be expected to pay taxes on. For a $500 round trip airline ticket at a 20% tax rate, that could equate to $100 back in your pocket come tax time. Consult your accountant or the IRS for details.
As you consider these money-saving tips, keep in mind the purpose(s) of your vacation and the financial resources you have available to you. We never recommend going into debt for vacations, but neither do we assume to tell any household to cut out vacations and family togetherness time when you feel you need them the most. Most vacations are opportunities to release or relieve stress, relax, visit family members or friends, improve health or experience something new. Minimizing the cost of any part of your vacation can increase your satisfaction with your trip, regardless of its purpose.