When was the last time you took a vacation? Most of us imagine a vacation to some far-off place that we have read about or heard of. However, very few of us take those vacations. Usually, the thought of spending too much money holds us back. But there is a way to save money while on vacation. My family of 6 travels together as much as we can. We have traveled to many locations in the US and recently began to travel outside the US as well. We begin our travel by following a series of steps to plan for a stress-free vacation.
Save money on vacation before you leave
Start off with a budget, make a checklist of the things you want to see and do, get accommodations that won’t break the bank and plan for meals and souvenirs.
Budgeting for the vacation has to be the first step so that you know exactly how much you can spend and if you have any wiggle room. This should include everything from airline tickets, accommodations, travel to and from destinations as well as meals and souvenirs.
Save money while on vacation
1. Skip the expensive hotel and opt for an apartment.
We have found that booking an apartment through Airbnb has been cheaper and more efficient for our family. Even if you have a small family or are a couple on vacation, an apartment can be cheaper because of all the extras you get.
We choose apartments that have the amenities that are important to us. For example, we need a kitchen and a washer and dryer, that way we can eat a few meals at home and wash our clothes so that we don’t have to pack a ton of things for the trip.
Another benefit is that you get to meet new people and locals. You can get an idea of what restaurants, grocery stores or farmer’s markets the locals go to. Apartment hosts will usually give you a list of fun things to do around the city.
You do need to make sure that you research the area where you are booking an apartment. If you book too close to a tourist area, it may be noisy when you are trying to sleep. Also, the cheaper apartments may not be in the best area, but neither will a cheaper hotel.
2. Set a budget for your meals. Our family is big on budgeting. As soon as we check into an Airbnb apartment we go grocery shopping. We try to book apartments that are walking distance from grocery stores. That way we can get groceries right away and eat before we go sightseeing.
We set our meal budget to $100-$120 per day for a family of 6. We eat breakfast at home. Lunch is usually something light that we get from a café or a more budget minded place. We do splurge on dinner at a nice restaurant because we like to sit down and relax after an adventurous day.
When you attempt to budget for meals, do take into account the eating habits of your family. Don’t forget to factor in any famous treats or snacks. For example in Boston we tried the Boston Cream Pie and in Italy, we had gelato almost every day.
3. Save on souvenirs. Buy small souvenirs from souvenir stands instead of from shops. The souvenir stands are generally cheaper. Buy souvenirs that can be used when you get home, for example, a cup or a t-shirt. Shop around before you buy any souvenirs.
Don’t buy souvenirs for everyone back home instead, send them a postcard. Postcards are handwritten and that is so rare these days. Personally, I love receiving handwritten notes. Skipping on souvenirs altogether is the easiest way to save money while on vacation.
4. Save on sightseeing. Most destinations will have a pass that you can purchase which includes several sights and unlimited public transport for a specific time frame under one price. The sights usually include the top tourist attractions like museums or parks. For example, in the US most major cities have the City Pass. Make sure to research such options for the vacation spot you go to.
Whenever a possible attempt to go to sights that are free. If your schedule allows you to go on days that are half priced, then you should do that, so that you can save on the entrance fees. If it is possible, try to purchase tickets online instead of at the door because online tickets are usually a little cheaper.
5. Choose the cheaper mode of transportation. If you are traveling with people who are relatively healthy to use public transportation. Public transportation such as the bus, trains or subways is cheaper than taxis. If you are traveling between cities by train opt for the cheaper ticket. For example, take a second-class ticket instead of a first-class ticket.
Of course in some situations, this isn’t possible. When I travel with my parents, at times it is better for them to take a taxi instead of public transport. If you are traveling in a country where the second-class ticket means you are traveling in a less than safe situation then opt for the more expensive ticket. Generally, there’s not much of a difference between first and second-class tickets on a train.
Save money while on vacation
If you are on a budget but you want to travel, then it is possible for you to save money while on vacation.
- Choose an apartment/house over a hotel
- Budget your meals
- Limit purchase of souvenirs to a few small items
- Purchase sightseeing passes or goes to places that are free of charge
- Use a cheaper mode of transport, such as public buses, trains or streetcars
Go ahead and plan your vacation and use these tips to save money while on vacation.
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Raheela James is a business blogger who blogs at Mommy’s Business 101. www.bizmom101.com. Raheela empowers and teaches people to use business techniques to run their lives and households efficiently. Raheela lives in San Francisco, California, USA with her husband, and 4 kids, where she runs her life and household using business techniques. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @bizmom101