Summer is often a time for family vacations and getaways. However, it can sometimes be hard to justify spending the money to take one. Fortunately, with a little planning and ingenuity you can trim the cost of your next trip without cutting back on fun and relaxation.
Here are a few ideas for maximizing your vacation dollars:
Consider package deals. By bundling airfare, hotel or car rental together, travel companies sometimes offer cheaper rates. Many hotels also offer discount tickets to popular attractions nearby. Just be sure to read the fine print for any limitations or restrictions.
Eat in your room. Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean every meal needs to be expensive. Look for accommodations that include free breakfast, complimentary snacks, or happy hours. Bring ready-to-eat snacks or microwavable items for convenient meals. If your hotel or rental includes a kitchen area, do a little meal planning and pickup items at the local grocery store.
Travel in the off-season. Holiday travel is great, but it's also more expensive during the busier seasons. By choosing the days just before or just after the busy season, you'll often find cheaper rates without much difference in climate. You'll also avoid some of the hassles that result from too many tourists or crowded venues.
Do some research before you go. You can find info online or in guidebooks about local favorites, authentic eateries, free events, and the best times to visit tourist areas. Some attractions also offer coupons which can be found online or at a brochure stand. Look for weekday specials at attractions and restaurants.
Stay-cation. Tourists likely visit your state or region to see natural wonders and attractions. For a week, explore the sights and interesting locales near you. You'll save on the cost of accommodations but still have the chance to explore the area around you through day trips.
Plan ahead. Instead of financing your getaway with a credit card and then struggling to pay off the balance and accumulated interest later, plan ahead to create a vacation fund. Every month or every paycheck, set aside money. Make it a family activity. Research the best airfares and hotel rates and let your kids do the math. The earlier you start, the more you'll be able to accumulate for that dream trip.