Americans are taking less vacations now more than ever before, so when we finally have the time and money for one, we have to make it count. It’s kind of ironic considering that the time we set aside to relax becomes a hassle in and of itself. Still, that pressure exists. There’s no denying it.
Often, this feeling that our vacations must be some epic event full of exotic locales and five star accommodations tricks us into spending more money than we should. While it’s nice to have a taste of the good life every now and then, taking too big a bite can leave us hungover with credit card balances that will eat up our disposable income for years to come.
Having a great vacation that doesn’t leave you broke, but is still full of amazing memories, is easier than most people think. You just have to be a little smarter with your money when it comes to planning and taking your much deserved getaway.
Here are 4 simple tips to help you do just that.
Staying local isn’t the same thing as a staycation. You still get of the house here, and either visit a place you’ve never been before or cocoon in a familiar home away from home. If this is something you’ve never looked into before, take the time and explore some local adventures and backyard gems.
Drive a hundred miles in any direction, and you’ll be in a new place. Just make sure to exclude any place in that radius where you might go regularly for work. There are a ton of small resorts hidden throughout the US to discover, and many of them have long and interesting histories.
Even getting acquainted with a picturesque small town for a week while living in a bargain motel can be more fun than all the TV ads selling us luxury Bahama getaways would have you believe.
This sounds like simple advice that is easy to follow, but the vacation spirit can derail the responsible spending train faster than Amtrak being Amtrak. We might start off with good intentions, but there is always the temptation to do a little bit more like buy that extra souvenir, or blow a couple of extra bucks on whatever fun you’re having. After all, we only get one vacation a year. Right?
A lot of budgeting comes down to simple discipline. Failing that, find tricks and life-hacks that can help you not spend too much money.
Travel Websites & Apps
It’s almost impossible to watch a YouTube video without eventually running into an ad for some sort of website promising to find you the cheapest hotel or flight. Use them. Depending on how far away you go on a vacation and what you do, there can be several ways to save a ton of money. One common way is to take advantage of bundle deals. A user can get extra discounts by booking things together like, flights, hotel accommodations, and rental cars through the same site.
Book Rooms Yourself
Not to contradict my previous point, but sometimes it can be cheaper to book direct instead of through a service like hotels.com. It can vary, depending on the type of lodging, the day you stay, and sometimes whoever answers the phone.
Booking online can be a better deal for 3 or 4 star or higher hotels, especially during the off season. 2 star economy lodgings like your typical Days Inn or Best Western will often offer better rates in person or over the phone than what is online.
They generally don’t want to lose the customer they’re talking to, and will often give rack rate discounts to keep them. But this can also depends on the mood of the desk clerk at the time, and if it’s a particularly busy night, you’re out of luck.
The truth is, you need to get away. It’s good for your mental health as well as your relationship. But, getting away doesn’t have to me refinancing your house to do so. With some proper planning and by using your resource, you can have a great weekend getaway by exploring the simple gems lurking in your own backyard.