10 Tips On How To Vacation On A Budget
We work hard for most of the year, so when we decide to take a vacation we want to enjoy ourselves as much as possible. While some may think that this means not having a budget, the opposite is actually true. By budgeting, vacationers can get the maximum amount of enjoyment out of the fixed amount of money they have set aside. However, simply having a budget is not enough. To get the best vacation for your money, you need to know how to execute that budget in the best possible way. Keep the following tips in mind before and during your next vacation.
Avoid Peak Season And Weekend Rates
Every vacation spot has its peak season. During this season, everything costs more including lodging, activities and sometimes even food. As you plan your vacation, use the Internet to investigate the peak season for your destination and try to go at a different time. Even during peak season, you may be able to save by going at less busy times. For example, Wednesday rates are often lower than Saturday rates. However, in making such plans, remember that peak seasons exist for a reason. No one wants to vacation at a favorite beach area when it is too cold to swim.
Take Advantage Of Bulk Rates
In many cases, you can save on transportation, lodging, meals and activities by buying in bulk. To get the best rates possible, get a group of people together or find a group through an online service. These bulk-rate packages can also provide a way for you to take advantage of all of the best attractions in a particular area without needing to do extensive research.
Do Not Take Checked Luggage
For many airlines, checked luggage costs extra. Instead of taking checked luggage, try to pack light and carry everything you need with you onto the plane. In addition to being cheaper, this can also save time as you do not have to gather around the carousel with all of the other passengers to get your luggage. This is particularly advantageous when connections do not transfer your luggage for you. Also, airlines do misplace luggage sometimes and it is nice to avert any possibility of this happening on your vacation.
Accept Multiple Connections
It can be annoying to take a flight with multiple connections instead of a straight shot, but this can sometimes save you a considerable amount of money. Remember that the inconvenience of connections can be significantly reduced if you do not take checked luggage.
Book At The Right Time
Tickets and reservations do not cost the same amount consistently. Hotels, airlines and travel agencies vary their rates depending not just on the time of year, but also on how far away the travel date is. You can usually get the best rates by booking more than six months beforehand. However, if you are booking your travel through a travel agency, you can also enjoy great rates by booking at the very last minute. This is because they may be willing to cut you a deal to fill up all of their seats. If you do wait until the last minute, make sure that you are open-minded as you will likely have to take whatever is available.
Do Your Research
If you are not trying to save by booking with a group at the last minute, you should probably do extensive research before committing yourself to anything. While it can be fun to simply go to a place and see what happens, you may end up falling into tourist traps instead of enjoying those great off-the-beaten-path places. Some great resources for such research are Lonely Planet, Yelp! and Internet map resources. To use Internet map resources such as those offered by Google and Bing for your research, zoom in on the geographical area of your vacation and type in keywords for different activities you would like to look for. Here are some examples of what to look for:
- Thai restaurant
- live show
- horseback riding
You might also want to try daily deal sites such as Groupon or LivingSocial. While these may not provide you with many planning opportunities months in advance, you can certainly find some great deals a few days before your trip.
Eat On The Street
One very important thing to research is the nature of the food service industry where you are going. In many countries, very small restaurants serving local food can be found on every street. Since one of the main reasons for going on a vacation is to try new things, this can be much more enjoyable than sticking to the restaurants you would find on the Internet. Such small restaurants often serve some of the best food at very low prices.
Eat Big Lunches
Since restaurants tend to have lower rates for lunch than dinner, you can save a considerable amount of money by making lunch your main meal and only eating a snack in the evening.
Avoid Exchange Centers
All over the world, there are exchange centers that specialize in the conversion of currency. These places generally charge relatively high fees for what they do. Instead of getting cash from these locations, try to get it from an ATM or use your credit card. (To learn more about how to save money on foreign currency exchange, see How To Get The Best Deal On Foreign Currency Exchange Rates.)
Make Your Budget Both Firm And Flexible
On the one hand, your budget should be firm to ensure that you do not spend extravagantly in such a way that you will regret it later. On the other hand, you should budget with the understanding that you will probably want to spend money while on vacation if you come across something you particularly like. For this reason, plan to spend within a certain range while maintaining a cushion of cash that you can dip into if necessary. This can also be helpful in case of emergencies. Remember that your budget is there to serve you and not the other way around. Have fun by spending wisely.
Before planning your next vacation, keep these tips in mind. They could end up saving you big money on your trip.