It’s August. The dog days of summer. It’s getting down to crunch time for a summer vacation. We are, however, in a “down” economy, and everyone’s talking about saving their money. A lot of consumers can’t really have it all… money in the bank AND a luxurious getaway. For consumers who thought a summer vacation was financially out of reach this year, we’ve got five budgeting tips that can ease the financial burden of any vacation.
1. Think outside the (Hotel) box
When choosing your vacation lodgings, take into account the variety of options available besides expensive hotels. Camping is not only affordable, but a clever way to unplug from your busy routine and get your children away from the television screen and outdoors. If camping is not for you, consider a quaint bed and breakfast where you can enjoy a sit-down breakfast with your family. Save on your lodgings by embracing a simpler (much less expensive) lifestyle.
2. Pack a Picnic
To save big, plan ahead by packing lunches, snacks, and drinks. Instead of filling your cooler full of ice that will melt, freeze water bottles to cool your food down. When they melt, hand them to your kids for drinks. With a picnic lunch, you can avoid inflated amusement park prices and allot more money to other vacation activities. If you are staying in a hotel, make sure to ask if you can have a room with a kitchen so that you can cook on your own. If you can save on smaller meals, like breakfast and lunch, you may budget enough to eat out a few times, as a treat, while vacationing.
3. Off-Season, On-Savings
If you can take off weekdays from work, plan to travel Monday through Thursday so that you beat the crowds and weekend prices. Consider winter destinations, like Aruba or the Bahamas, as you will enjoy their off-season prices during the summer.
4. Stay on the Ground
Instead of flying (and getting tricked into baggage costs), take advantage of falling gas prices by setting out on a car adventure. Get your kids involved by using Google Maps to plot your destinations along the way. Bring fun trivia and car games to transform what could be a boring car trip into an exciting adventure.
5. Find the Free in Freedom
Do your research ahead of time to find out about special offers. Since it is summer and the economy is slow, many businesses and towns are offering special ‘free’ events and incredible deals. If you find a free concert a few states away, make it the excuse for your car adventure. While on your trip, pass up the overpriced souvenirs by guaranteeing your child lifelong memories through your digital camera. When your trip is over, compile your pictures into a colorful scrap book, a memento of how much fun a budget can be.
How do you plan on saving money this summer?