Vacations don’t have to be about spending money. There are many ways you can save and still have a good time. You will come back feeling refreshed and without large bills to pay. Here are some suggestions.
You really do save money visiting a site just before or after the main season. Just before is often the best choice because the sites are usually spruced up by this time but not so crowded that you can’t obtain specials. The end of season often has even better specials than the start as the sites try to pick up every last dollar before the season ends. For summer attractions, April or early May are preseason times; September and October are after season times. For winter attractions it reverses. March to April is after season; preseason falls around October and November.
If you are traveling in the Southern hemisphere, remember winter and summer are reversed from the Northern hemisphere when considering seasons. For those who like to cruise, the cheapest cruises are early and late season. You can see when these are by reading the cruise price schedule. No cruise line has one price all year long. You can also save money by booking cruises when the ship is relocating. This are usually a good deal, and often you only have to pay air fare one way to reach your home port.
One of the biggest expenses on vacations is paying for somewhere to stay. This does not have to be extremely expensive if you plan well. Look for deals. Many hotels these days provide breakfast and a free night if you stay for a certain amount of days. Don’t be afraid to rebook your stay to obtain a special. Another money saving idea is to book in the next town over. If you don’t mind driving, you can often save by simply booking in a suburb of your intended goal. You need to consider parking and other expenses to go to your intended sites. I find that it is often just a cheap in terms of time and price to stay next to Disneyland because of the local hotel competition. However, when visiting Monterrey, I do better staying at a city near this area.
Generally, booking early will also save you money on your room. Other ideas are to share rooms. The more people in your room, the less it costs. Don’t be afraid to book a suite for say six persons rather than trying to cram six into a room for four. You will still save plenty of money and you probably will have an extra bathroom. Don’t forget camping out in season. Campgrounds are still a great deal, and you really will get away from it all. Time of week is also important. It is cheaper to stay Sunday through Thursday. It is cheaper to stay Saturday and Sunday nights. Staying on Friday and Saturday nights will usually cost you twice as much.
Eating out is another costly item on a vacation. The trick here is to try not to do it. If your hotel offers a free breakfast and you can eat it, this is essentially free. Eating out for breakfast will easily run you $7 or $8 a person unless you order a bowl of cereal. You can also cook your meals by using a kitchenette or microwave. Of course, if you camp, you can cook all your meals at the campsite. Many hotels have barbecues for their visitors to use; you can barbecue for dinner.
Meals are more expensive as the day goes on; you can eat lunch or breakfast out and do something inexpensive for dinner, such as ordering pizza or going to a sandwich shop. If you can afford a nice dinner or two out, then do it. If you can’t don’t do it. Just because you leave home is no reason to spend like mad. Ask at the hotel where good deals are and don’t be afraid to use coupons. We try to restrict eating out to just lunch when on vacation. If you can don’t eat at the attraction you are visiting. This is usually very costly. Some vacations plans now include meals. Some of these are pretty reasonable and will save you money.
First, you don’t need to see everything on one visit. You can go back. Try to get tickets early for what you want to see; these are usually cheaper than buying at the time of entrance. Look into joining any loyalty group that the attraction has. These will usually save you something during your visit. If you plan to come back soon, maybe a season pass will save you money. Use a combination of attractions. Plan one or two big expenditures with several free or inexpensive ones. Find out about parking at your attractions. If you have tickets, but can’t get there, you are out the money you spent. Actually, you don’t need to see any attractions when on vacation. Hiding in a hotel room for the weekend can be a very good thing.
This has become a big expense to attend some venues and stay at some hotels. Last time I went to an arena, the parking was more than two tickets. Investigate the cost of parking and what you can do to decrease it. Often loyalty programs give patrons free or reduced parking. Hotels have began charging for parking for certain guests. Usually this is waived if you are on a special or are staying at certain times, but $10 a day for parking can take a bite out of your budget. There are still hotels that don’t change for parking. Stay there over paying for parking. Otherwise, parking costs will never go back down.
With careful planning your vacation should not cost a great deal more than to stay at home and go out for the day. Your goal is to stay on budget, or come in below it. Now, get out there and vacation!