Some Vacation Budgeting Tips For You Budget Travelers

by Guest Contributor · 9 comments

The unemployment rate is still very high, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t take a vacation. Actually, with the added stress that a bad economy puts on us, a vacation is much needed and hard earned! Luckily, Galit helped prepare some tips for us to take that dream vacation without breaking the bank.

  1. Create a Vacation Budget (travel, lodging, spending once you get there)
    • Decide on the type of vacation you wish to have and who is going on vacation (solo / family/ spouse).
    • If it is a family vacation, incorporate the ideas and opinions of all who will be traveling.
    • If this is a solo vacation, think about where you would like to go and how much time / money you are willing to allocate to this vacation.
    • Consider the season (summer/ winter/ march break etc.) before making vacation plans. Be sure you have enough time allocated to this vacation before committing to it. Extra days taken off of work may have a negative impact on future vacation time.
  2. Decide where / when to go (certain seasons are cheaper at some destinations)
    • Consider your vacation time, overtime, days off
    • Short stay / weekend getaways are a great, inexpensive alternative to longer vacations. You can explore the destination and not loose too many work days.
  3. Plan in advance (start saving for your vacation well in advance, so that you have the optimal amount of time to set money aside instead of putting this expense on your credit card)
    • Planning is the key to a budget friendly vacation.
    • Packing lunches and healthy snacks for the trip are a great way to save money.
    • Include some activity books or car games for younger children to keep them occupied during a lengthy trip.
  4. Do the research (contact several travel retailers, airline companies and hotels to inquire about sales, discounts and rebates)
    • Look for budget friendly restaurants (online) at your destination.
    • There are also coupons for attractions / tourist sites at hotels, AAA centers etc.
    • Consider a hostel for your accommodations, as they may be cheaper.
    • Home swap is a great alternative to a hotel (when staying for an extended holiday).
    • Ask about free upgrades at the hotel (often offered these to newlyweds).
    • Contact your credit card provider and ask them about travel options (exchange rates, insurance offers etc) as some options may be offered to clients at reduced rates.
    • Inform your creditors (if any) that you will be leaving for a certain period of time and make your payments in advance or arrange for a scheduled date of payment to avoid incurring additional interest charges.
  5. Shop around (for better prices, certain online retailers offer a “no booking fee” special, this is a great incentive to take advantage of)
    • Compare several online retailers, some will offer a low price guarantee and they will offer to match any price (lower than theirs).
    • New online service like Bing.com offers a search engine that will lets you see what several companies will offer, all at once.
    • Check for last-minute specials in-store or at travel agency centers. If you are not limited to dates for traveling this may be a great option for you.
  6. Consider alternatives (driving the scenic route versus flying)
    • Trains are a great way to see the countryside.
    • Ferries are a great alternative to driving from coast to coast.
    • Bus services are becoming more eco-friendly and are cost-friendly.
    • If your vehicle is a big gas guzzler, consider renting an eco-friendly vehicle that uses less fuel.
  7. Be prepared (travelers insurance is a great option, there may be unexpected expenses that come up such as medical, car etc.)

In short, Budget, Plan, Prepare! Enjoy your vacation and you will save lots!

This is a guest post from Consolidated Credit. If you bought my budget travel book, you probably know all this already but if not and you like these tips, please check Galit’s site out for additional budget tips.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Jess says:

    I don’t know if I could ever forgo my vacation for a “staycation.” It’s just not my style 🙂

  • pps says:

    Good tips. I also suggest to use a personal finance software with a cellphone or PDA phone. This makes recording and tracking expenses much easier. An Excel sheet on a PDA would do very well as a personal finance planner and it can be easily transferred to a PC for expenses tracking and archiving.

  • Craig says:

    Plan as much in advance as you can and pay for as much in advance as you can. There is the risk due to no refunds on certain things, but you will get better flights, hotels, tours, etc if you book in advanced.

  • Jessica says:

    Sometimes, planning in advance cannot really help you when expenses get out of hand. I personally carry some extra cash called the “Emergence Fund” when going on a vacation with my family. This helps me meet any unforeseen expenses that may occur during the course of our trip.

  • Pete says:

    I find that like everything else, preparation usually saves so much money. Hotels, booking flights ahead of time, knowing where to eat and how to get there etc.

  • Chapter 7 says:

    I’ve found when you travel can make a huge difference in the cost of your travel.

    For example, there is a big sweet spot for travel from America to Mexico and the Caribbean in November. Families with kids are still in school, it isn’t cold enough for the snow birds to fly South yet and hurricane season is just ending.

    The result: Huge discounts on hotels. My hotel costs hundreds of dollars less than it would if I traveled two months later.

    Plus, on my last trip I found the places I visited were less crowded and restaurants and services were begging for business and offered great deals and negotiable prices.

    So, if you have the flexibility in your schedule, you could save big time.

  • Best vacation is the STAYCATION. 🙂 You’ll be amazed at what you’ll discover in your hometown.

    In the Bay Area, we’ve got Carmel By The Sea, Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, San Francisco, Berkeley, Point Reyes… the choices are endless.

    Is there any wonder why the cost of living is so high here?

  • Jessica says:

    Upgrading used to be very easy, but nowadays they are all trying to charge for any type of upgrades. However, once in a while when it happens, it’s sweet, especially when you can get a presidential suite for free.

  • I love planning cheap vacations. Two summers ago my girlfriend and I went to Duluth (Minnesota) for very cheap. I signed up for this program and got $50 off an already cheap $80-90 hotel. I made sure I could cancel it right away (got it in writing in a chat w/a rep) so as soon as we were done I canceled. I get some junk mail from them but that doesn’t matter. On the way back down we stayed at a casino that offered me a free hotel room. Lodging was literally about $40.

    We also planned “cheaper” stuff to do – visited a historic site, went to a beautiful public beach, and a few other things. All in all we went on a fun weekend vacation for very cheap.

    If you do your research and look for offers, you can do vacations cheap.

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