It's easier to honor your spending plan when you're in your element. After all, when you're close to home, you have a routine and support network to help keep you motivated. Vacationing on a budget, unfortunately, is a whole different ball game.
If you're planning to hit the open road, you'll want to know how to stick to a budget while on vacation, and these creative tips can help.
- Broaden your horizons. Instead of throwing a dart at the map and determining to visit, hold up. Look at discount deals on sites like Living Social or Groupon for vacation packages at a fraction of the cost. If you're flexible and open to seeing new sights, try an adventure where your family has never been before. Who knows, your new "discount" destination may surprise you, proving even better than the same tired old beach.
- Let airlines compete. Popular sites like Expedia, Travelocity, and Priceline pit one commercial airline against another to duke it out. The one that offers up the best price wins your business.
- Ditch the gym for a rewarding workout. Instead of paying full price for a hotel and hitting the gym each day, consider offering a few hours of manual labor to pay for your lodging and food. WWOOF, or "Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms" pairs farmers with vacationers who can lend a hand in exchange for a great place to stay and good food.
- Go glamping. Another inexpensive trend is glamping, a term coined by the mashing of the words "glamorous," and "camping." While tent camping is often free, vacationers pay in other ways for the rough accommodations. Think back pain, fluctuating temperatures, and risk of rain and bug bites. Glamping fixes some of those issues for a fee much smaller than the typical hotel room. Check your state park's rates for cabin rentals to ease the cost of lodging while away.
- Rethink food. Before booking your stay, consider food. Does your cabin or room have a kitchenette? Will you be able to cook grocery meals in your room? If so, then you can save even more money at your destination. In fact, you can probably even keep up on your family's traditional dollar dinner ritual!
- Combine travel with visitation. Choose a destination where you can hit two birds with one stone. A great way to achieve this is to visit family members and friends who live far away. If you're up front with expectations and tactfully ask to crash for a night (two tops), your friends will likely love the idea and relish the chance to help you save dough.
- Find free activities. Once settled into your accommodations, search online for "free things to do near me." In today's information age, you will likely strike gold. An extra benefit to this approach to entertainment is unique experiences that you can't get in another city. For example, if you go off the beaten path with a local self-guided walking tour, you'll see (and smell!) things that you wouldn't see anywhere else. More expensive, mainstream diversions like movie theaters and theme parks, on the other hand, often resemble similar attractions in other cities.
Over half of American workers haven't taken a vacation in a year, according to Time magazine. The number one reason cited? You guessed it: lack of funds. Either folks don't want to use their accrued time because excursions cost so much, or they're compelled to work through to strengthen job security.
Don't be a statistic. Get out there and have fun without blowing the budget. And of course, don't forget to send a postcard to your friends back home!
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