How to Spend less during Vacation

When vacation time rolls around, it can actually cause more stress than relaxation due to financial strain. Exploring options on how to save money, can ease that stress and make for a great time.

*Internet research. Save yourself steps and time by researching your destination online before you hit the road. Find the shortest route there by sites like Google Maps, and save money on fuel. Compare hotel room prices to find the best rate without having to compromise on safety and comfort. Locate reasonably priced restaurants and attractions along the way as well as at your destination town/city. Researching these important things will save you the hassle of having to track things down once you hit the road. Write all of the information down and take it with you as a reference guide.

*Discounts/coupons. While you are researching your vacation spot(s) online, check for discounts on hotel rooms, restaurants and attractions. Many of these vendors offer printable coupons. Coupons are especially useful for families and vacationers on a tight budget. Note: be sure to check the expiration date of any coupons printed. It will be very disappointing to try and use the coupon but find out it is no longer valid.

*Take food with you. Pack a cooler with your favorite beverages and plenty of water. Also pack snacks and even stuff to make sandwiches. This is handy for the travel time to and from your vacation spot. If you stay at hotels that have microwaves and refrigerators, you can save even more by eating in the hotel room as opposed to dining out every meal at a restaurant. 

*Free attractions. Many tourist attractions are free of charge; examples include museums, scenic overlooks and some historic sites. These places usually accept donations, but it is not required. Some cities even offer free concerts during the summer. It pays to check out the list of free attractions for a given state/city. You and your family can have a great time without hurting the pocketbook.

*Set spending limit. Most people like to buy a few souvenirs to commemorate their vacation and the places they saw. This is great idea, however those trinkets can cost and arm and a leg, depending on the area. Set a spending limit, (and stick to it) before you leave home. Many places offer free souvenirs like at Cripple Creek, Colorado’s “Molly Kathleen Mine” (scroll to bottom of page). Setting a souvenir spending limit can help you save money and still ensure everyone is able to bring back a memento of the trip.

*Book in advance. Sometimes you can get a good deal by booking your hotel room(s) and/or flight in advance. You can also guarantee you will have a room and/or flight. Unfortunately, when people wait till they are ready to leave for vacation, they find that rooms and flights they need are not always available. Even worse is if you end up having to pay more for a different hotel room than what you had budgeted for. 

*Take lots of photographs. This is another tip on how to save on souvenirs, however it is worthy of special mention. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and it really is true. A T-shirt is nice, but it does not actually capture the essence, the feeling of what you experience when you visit places. A pair of earrings is nice, but they do not capture the scenery or the faces of people that you meet while on vacation. A photograph captures all that and holds those special moments in time forever. The best part is taking pictures is free.

In uncertain economic times it is a necessity to pinch pennies where you can, vacations are no exception. The best tip that can be given is to research your trip before you head out. Print out coupons, book in advance and pack a cooler with all kinds of goodies and beverages.