Summer is here, and it is difficult to keep our minds from wandering to warm, white, sandy beaches and road trips with friends, despite the fact that these adventures seem impossible to afford. Luckily for you, we here at Interfaith Ministries have compiled some money-saving tips for planning a vacation. Check them out, and who knows, you just may find yourself hanging out on that beach sooner than you think.
1. Plan in advance. They say the early bird gets the worm, and while that phrase couldn’t be any more cliché, it is especially relevant when planning a vacation. It is recommended that you book hotels and airfare at least 45 days in advance for the best deals. If you are worried that hotel prices might go down after you reserve your room, you can use Tingo.com, which matches hotel rates if you book on their site and refunds you the difference if the hotel lowers their prices before your stay. Also, booking early ensures that there is space available during the peak summer months when rooms and seats go quickly.
2. Location, location, location. Oftentimes, actually getting to your vacation destination can cost just as much as the rest of your trip combined. As a result, choosing a location closer to home can help save you some serious cash. Luckily, you live in Texas, which has a plethora of great places to visit. Check out this website, which breaks down Texas into different cities with a list of fun things to do in each area.
3. Rethink your lodging. Limiting your lodging options to just hotels may require you to fork over more than is necessary. For example, cabins, condos and beach houses may be less expensive if you are plan on staying at least a week. Other more unconventional options include swapping houses with another family or renting a room in someone’s home. HomeExchange.com provides house swapping opportunities, and Airbnb.com helps you locate rooms to rent in people’s homes. Finally, if you plan on visiting a large city such as Washington D.C., which is known for its pricey lodging, consider staying just outside the city and driving in each day.
4. Find low-cost activities. Even if you can find cheap transportation and lodging for your destination of choice, you may still end up paying more than you would like on activities and things to do while you are there. Researching and selecting locations with a variety of inexpensive or free activities is a must when you are working with a limited budget. Areas with natural attractions such as beaches, mountains and lakes are great options. Additionally, make sure that you have some idea or plan of what you will do when you get to your location, that way you don’t end up doling out a bunch of money on spontaneous activities that were not in your original budget. Also, many attractions such as museums may have free or discounted rates at certain times, so being aware of those times is important.
5. Look into extras. When researching hotels, transportation options and attractions, look for extras such as free internet and free breakfast. Hotels with free breakfast are a great option not only because it is one less meal you have to pay for, but because you can take a muffin or two back to your room to snack on later. Additionally, many attractions offer various coupons that can be found in travel guides located at hotels. You can also contact the Visitor’s Bureau of the city you are hoping to visit and request information on their city. These packets will often come with coupons as well.
As you can see, taking a solo or family vacation doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. These tips can help save you money and allow you to actually enjoy the vacation you planned, without worrying if you will have gas money for the drive home.