With the summer vacation season fast approaching, it’s time to get your travel plans in order. While most of us would probably love to take a tropical cruise or enjoy a lavish trip to Europe, the costs can quickly add up if you’re not careful. For Americans, the average vacation costs $1,145 per person – about as much as a new laptop.
So how can you enjoy a relaxing vacation without skimping on the fun or breaking the bank? By planning ahead, choosing inexpensive meals and accommodations, and finding ways to save on your travel activities, you’ll be enjoying your dream vacation in no time!
In my family, vacation planning was a highly anticipated annual event. With two teachers for parents, we never failed to make the most of our free summers together – but we could never afford to do anything extravagant either. When we planned our summer trips together, we always tried to implement several key money-saving principles.
Here are some of those methods you can use to save money on your next trip:
- Set a budget. We all know that budgeting saves money. But is it really important to budget for a luxury expense? Yes! By setting limits for you and your family, you can enjoy the freedom to spend your travel budget without having to worry about how much you are spending, not to mention easy decision-making once the budget is exhausted.
- Make reservations well in advance. Regarding reservations, early risers get the discount. By booking flights, hotels, campgrounds, event tickets, and even restaurant visits well in advance, you’re much more likely to get a better price, not to mention booking online. general.
- Start saving early. Do you remember your mason jar “travel fund”? Use it or a separate bank account to start saving for your ultimate trip. A great way to fill it is to skip some small purchases, like fast food, and add the money you would have spent to your travel fund.
Food and accommodation
According to Value Penguin, vacationers spend about $27 a day in the restaurant but only $6 a day on food they cook themselves. In addition, accommodation costs account for about a quarter of travel expenses. While food and accommodations certainly make up a big chunk of your vacation budget, it’s not hard to find ways to reduce your spending in these areas. Follow these tips to save on meals and accommodation for your summer trip:
- Make your own food. Resist the temptation to justify overspending on food just because you’re on vacation. Whenever I go on a trip, I always pack enough food for several meals on the trip so I don’t have to spend on eating out – it’s a great way to save money. Once you arrive at your destination, buy food from the local grocery store to prepare it at home rather than eating at a restaurant each day. Even if your hotel only has one microwave, you can use it to prepare a variety of fresh and frozen meals.
- Stay somewhere other than a nice hotel. With a little luck, you will do so many visits that you will not spend much time in your accommodation anyway. Instead of spending a lot on a hotel, check local Airbnb listings or hostels. And, if possible, find one with a kitchen you can use.
Although vacation activities may be the most important part of your trip, it is always wise to limit them to a set budget. That doesn’t mean you have to cut back on fun experiences though – you’d be surprised at how much fun you can find for free.
Check out this list of ways to save money on activities during your summer vacation:
- Borrow equipment. One of the best vacation experiences I’ve had was kayaking in Colorado on my honeymoon. The best part? Thanks to a friend, we were able to borrow a kayak for free! Ask your circles about the equipment you want to use. Your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, or even someone in your congregation will allow you to rent or borrow their equipment.
- Participate in free activities. Community Calendars can be a great resource for finding free or discounted events in your area. For example, locally Now Playing Utah has listing pages for all kinds of events in the Utah Valley. If you prefer something less structured, summer is also the perfect time for free or low-cost outdoor activities in many parts of the world. Take a hike, go for a swim or just sunbathe for a fun vacation on a budget!
Other Ways to Survive
Any vacation you take should be a relaxing and enjoyable experience – if you’re coming home with an increased financial burden, you’re doing it wrong. “Cutting unnecessary expenses is one of the best ways to ease the financial burden,” said Justin Hatch, CEO of Audience reports, a financial reporting software company in Springville. “Experiences don’t have to be expensive to be valuable and memorable.”
Here are a few more ways to save money and create a stress-free summer vacation:
- Student and military discounts. Many companies in various industries offer discounts to students and military personnel. Bring your student or military ID with you on your trip to take advantage of any discounts you may find.
- Use public transport. In major cities, public transport is easily accessible and relatively inexpensive. By taking the bus, train or tram, you can quickly reduce your gas and parking expenses.
- Shop for souvenirs at local stores. If you’re vacationing in an area that gets a lot of tourists, chances are you can find souvenirs just about anywhere. Save money on overpriced tchotchkes by buying them at grocery stores or local markets rather than at the airport or tourist hotspots.
By planning ahead, choosing low-cost meals and accommodations, and saving on your travel activities, you’ll be set to enjoy your most exciting and profitable vacation ever.
Lillian Sanders is a project manager at Stage Marketing, a full-service content marketing agency based in Provo.