Who doesn’t deserve a break now and then? I’m always thrilled to have a time off from ordinary tasks such as dishes, laundry and chauffeuring kids around town. For me, a perfect vacation is going someplace scenic with family where I can curl up with a cup of tea while reading a favorite book. For others, the perfect vacation may center on a beloved activity, such as skiing or golf. No matter what type of vacation you prefer, travel provides respite from the tediousness of our daily schedules. Unfortunately, vacations can be expensive. Here are a few fabulous ways to save money on travel in 2013.
1) STAY CLOSER TO HOME – You don’t have to travel far when there are great things to do in your own neck of the woods. Consider taking vacations closer to home. You’ll save money on transportation, and with the increased costs of airfare and gas, you’ll be glad you did.
2) COMPARE PRICES – You do it in the grocery store, so why not compare vacation prices? There are many helpful websites which provide valuable side by side comparisons of prices for hotels, restaurants, air travel and car rentals. Do your homework and your research will pay off in big savings.
3) USE DISCOUNTS – Take advantage of club memberships and organizations such as AMAC which offer discounts to seniors on car and truck rentals. To check out your Amac membership benefits, please visit the benefits section of the AMAC website.
4) GO OFF SEASON – Vacation rentals in hot spots like Cape Hatteras, North Carolina offer valuable off- season discounts. You can stay in the same luxurious beach rentals for a fraction of the cost if you go off season. You may have to compromise a bit on things like temperature, but the savings can be well worth it in the end.
5) TRAVEL IN GROUPS – This is a great money saving idea because hotel group rates are often cheaper than single rates. Traveling with others enables you to save money by splitting bills; sharing transportation costs, rental and food expenses. Sightseeing discounts are also available for larger groups seeking tours. Ask for package deal discounts for your group.
6) ASK FOR BEST PRICE – While recently checking out hotels in Florida, I saw a price on a hotel internet site. Before booking, I called the hotel directly to see if they could beat the internet price. It worked and I was able to book the room for $20 less per night. The simple task of picking up the phone and communicating directly with hotel staff paid off, proving it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask.
7) SAVE MONEY ON FOOD – Restaurant costs can add up quickly. A great way to save money on vacation is to eat in. Find a hotel or resort with a mini-kitchen where you can prepare some meals on your own. If you’re celebrating, consider purchasing your own bottle of champagne or sparkling cider to enjoy in the privacy of your room, and skip expensive drinks at a restaurant which add up on your bill. Don’t forget to take advantage of free continental breakfast or free coffee in the room, if offered. Avoid purchasing snacks at expensive hotel mini-bars. If desired, pack your own portable snacks.
8) CONSIDER A HOME EXCHANGE – This is a really bold idea, but it works for some people. Good friends of ours from Paris exchanged homes with a family in Hawaii, enabling them to visit other countries. While this is clearly not for everyone, it is a way of cutting high vacation rental costs and makes faraway destinations affordable. One must be certain to use a reputable agency to handle the exchange, where background checks are done and proper contracts are drawn up to protect your rights and dwelling. You must take care to protect your valuables as well. DO YOUR HOMEWORK CAREFULLY IF CONSIDERING THIS OPTION.
9) CHOOSE A LESS EXPENSIVE DESTINATION – You don’t have to stay in the most expensive resort to have a great time. Make a wish list of vacation must haves and find hotels in your targeted area with similar amenities at a lesser cost. Sometimes, the hotel right down the road offers similar accommodations with the same stunning views at a much lesser cost. Don’t bother booking an expensive hotel with amenities you won’t use, such as paying to stay at a championship golf course when you don’t golf.
10) STAY WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS – Instead of making reservations at costly hotels, stay with family and friends who have an open door policy for guests. Not only will you save money on hotels, you’ll enjoy bonding with these special people in your life. To make this work, always follow guest etiquette and be sure not to wear out your welcome. Remember to extend the invitation to them as well.
11) BE CREATIVE –Camping or rustic cabin rentals are generally cheaper options to expensive hotel stays. Camp equipment can be purchased, borrowed or reasonably rented at cost effective prices. Extending a business vacation into a few extra personal days may be a solution to visiting a new city without bearing the whole expense. The key to saving money is to think outside the box.
12) SKIP THE OVERNIGHT STAY – Day trips are a wonderful substitute for overnight stays. If you’re short on cash but wish to go exploring, daily excursions may lead to big savings. Visit nearby towns or attractions within easily drivable distances. As a bonus, you can ask friends for their recommendations on fun places to go. A short trip can be just as enjoyable as a long trip, and you won’t waste time packing and unpacking.
13) SEEK OUT REDUCED COST OR FREE ACTIVITIES – When traveling; you needn’t do tons of expensive things. Avoid spending pitfalls like shopping or visiting the spa. Instead, seek out low cost or free museums; enjoy walking in local parks, and reading. If your hotel has a pool or work-out room for guests, take advantage of opportunities to relax or exercise. These activities are generally built-into the overall cost of your hotel stay.
Travel is a wonderful way to escape the monotony of ordinary living, proving you don’t have to break the bank to have fun. By planning your trip carefully, seeking out the best prices, scaling back expectations or being resourceful, you’re guaranteed to experience your dream vacation. Wishing you happy, safe and reasonably priced travels in the New Year.