Summer is a short two weeks away, and I can imagine that you’re probably fantasizing about going on a well-deserved vacation. Whether your ideal vacation is lounging on the sandy beaches of a tropical island, going all around and upside down on a rollercoaster, or hiking the trails of a national state park, it’s easy to rack up charges while you’re away on your trip. Not everyone has thousands to spend, but luckily, there are ways to save money on your vacation while enjoying your destination of choice without breaking the bank.
Consider some of these tips while planning your vacation to get the most out of your time away from home.
Travel During the Off-Peak Season
Planning your vacation is an exciting time, and you’re probably anxious to jump in headfirst, but before you purchase your airfare, secure your train ticket, book your bus ride, or book your hotel stay, make sure to do your homework. Wait … homework?! I know, I know, vacation is supposed to be the opposite of work, but trust me, the research will be well worth it on you and your wallet in the end.
Try not to get your heart set on traveling during specific dates. For example, one of the most popular (and not to mention expensive) vacation months is in July, most notably around the fourth of July holiday. One surefire way to save money is to avoid traveling over holidays or during peak months, as well as over the weekend. When traveling during the week, not only will crowds be smaller, but you’ll also avoid higher prices due to the travel industry intentionally hiking up prices to take advantage of families who only opt to travel during those time frames. Instead, research the best or most popular time to visit your intended destination and plan on traveling before or after those dates.
Planning to fly and book a hotel stay? Airlines and hotels often lower their prices during off-peak times to attract more visitors, which could help you save major cash. If you’ll be flying, make sure that you book your flight far in advance of your departure date. The closer to the date you purchase your tickets, the more the prices will increase, especially during the last month.
Think Outside the Traditional Hotel
Once you’ve got your vacation dates in mind, start thinking about where you’ll call your home away from home.
Let’s face it, we all want to be pampered and live luxuriously while we’re on vacation, but trading in an expensive hotel suite for an AirBnB or VRBO rental can save you some serious money. Depending how many family members or friends you’re planning to travel with, consider renting out an entire home or book a spare room in a local person’s house or apartment through these sites. Booking rooms with a host will allow you to experience an authentic snapshot of how the locals live no matter where your travel destination is. Plus, staying with a local that has firsthand knowledge has its benefits as they can share all the must-dos and insider tips as to where the best tourist spots and eateries are in the area.
Don’t Eat Away Your Budget
Speaking of eating, one of my favorite things to do while on vacation is sample the local cuisine, but it can easily wind up being one of the biggest expenses while on vacation. Although you don’t have to completely miss out on this simple joy to save some green, you can save by substituting half your meals by preparing them ahead of time.
Once you arrive and settle in at your vacation spot, visit the local supermarket and do some shopping. Purchase food you can use to pack lunches during your day-to-day excursions, snacks for those in-between meal munchies, and plenty of water if your plans include lots of time and fun in the sun. If you’ve booked a spot where a kitchen is readily available to you, be sure to purchase items to cook a few dinners during your stay. On the days you decide to treat yourself to a local restaurant, do a little homework before you venture out. Wander around town or consult Google to see which eateries offer the best meals for your money. Pro-tip: always read reviews for a real-life look at others’ thoughts and experiences and remember that higher priced dishes don’t always mean higher quality.
As a side note, when you’re ready to start checking restaurants and places of interest off your list, embrace public transportation to get you where you want to go. Buses and trains are much cheaper than driving or renting a car (especially with the current gas prices) or relying on a taxi, Uber, or Lyft to get you everywhere you want to go.
Got a Coupon for That?
Another way to save (and I’ll admit that even I’m often guilty of forgetting about) is by looking for coupons or promo codes online. Regardless of where you vacation, many restaurants, wineries, and amusement parks in the area will post coupons or promo codes on their websites for a discount that offers a percentage off the total bill or individual tickets. In addition, if you sign up to receive their emails, newsletters, or join a free rewards or loyalty program, you can receive additional coupons just for agreeing to receive their alerts, which provide even more opportunities for you to save some cash!
Lastly, don’t be afraid to flash your card! Whether you’ve got AAA, AARP, a student ID, Costco membership, are active or retired military, etc., always inquire about discounts. When you take advantage of the available discounts, you may be surprised at just how much you could save.
Enjoy Your Vacation!
If you put in a little prep work, you’ll find that you can lower your travel expenses and still afford to do what you want and have an enjoyable vacation.
If you still find yourself coming up short, a GOLD Personal Loan could be an option to help fill in the gap. We encourage you to first use your savings or other means of funding before considering a personal loan, but our experienced lenders are happy to speak with you and can help determine if a personal loan is the right fit for you. Give our lending team a call today: 484-223-4216.
If you think a vacation isn’t in the cards this year, that’s okay, too! Start saving now for next summer instead as a way to get ahead on next year’s vacation plans. Consider opening a Vacation Club Account and contribute to it all year long. Vacation Club Accounts are special accounts that are dedicated solely to saving up for your vacation. Try putting away a little cash from each paycheck into your Vacation Club Account and by the time next summer rolls around, you’ll have a healthy amount to make your next vacation really count.
From all of us at GOLD, we hope you have a safe and fun summer, no matter what you’ve got planned!