During difficult economic times, taking a vacation may seem like an impossible task, especially if you have children. But the truth of the matter is that everyone needs time away to relax and have fun. A vacation does not have to drain all of your finances. Fortunately, there are ways that one can vacation on a small budget.
The following is a list of helpful tips designed to help individuals and families save money on their next vacation:
1. You don’t have to stay in expensive hotels and resorts. There are plenty of campgrounds that offer very affordable rates. As well, vacationing during off-season will result in lower hotel expenses. Bed and breakfasts are another affordable alternative. The rooms are usually very lovely and the food is great.
2. If you have children, give them a set amount of money they are allowed to spend. Tell them they have to budget because that is all the money they will have for the entire trip.
3. Using credit cards while on vacation has its share of risks. Before you travel, create a plan to reduce the chances of acquiring high credit card debt. You can do the following:
Contact the credit card company to see if they provide any travel discounts on things like accommodations, car rental, insurance, or airplane tickets. Bring only one credit card with you on the trip. Keep track of all your purchases; keep all of your receipts. Find out the steps involved with reporting lost or stolen credit cards and if you will be held liable for unauthorized use of a card. Keep a list of your credit card numbers and important credit card contact information.
4. When it comes to meals, look for restaurants that offer discounts for children, or “Kids Eat Free” programs. Instead of buying 3 meals a day, pack homemade lunches and beverages. Try to reduce the amount of snacks you buy. Many hotels provide free continental breakfasts.
5. If flying is part of your vacation plans, look for cheap airlines and discounted rates; discount airlines are a good choice. As well, there may be certain airplane travel specials available. Comparison shopping online is a great way to buy cheap airline tickets. If you are not constrained by time- last minute tickets are often sold at great discounts.
6. Vacation activities do not have to be expensive. Research your destination before getting there – you may find reasonably priced options such as museums, historical sites, amusement parks, national and state parks, and zoos. These types of places will often only charge a small fee that can be as low as a few dollars. Along your route, you will also come across free local festivals that can include walking tours, wine tasting, arts and crafts, as well as historical re-enactments.
7. Often, fun events are taking place close to your own home. Visiting local and regional areas is a cheap and fun way to explore your province. Make sure you check the visitor centre of each town and city you visit. They will have information on affordable sights and activities, and may have special discount coupons.
8. Acquire a cheap long distance phone card before you travel. Hotel phones can be very expensive. If you are using a cell phone, check out their roaming fees before using it.
Everyone needs time away from their busy day to day routines. Being on a budget does not mean that you cannot have a fun vacation. By implementing and following a well planned vacation budget, you and your family will have a great vacation full of lasting memories.by Amy NuttAbout the Author:Amy Nutt is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of financial topics including personal budgeting and debt consolidation. For more information about personal finance and credit counselling, ConsolidatedCredit.ca is a tremendous resource on the topic for Canadians.