If I learned anything from living frugally (read: cheap) it's that you don't have to give up your vacations to save money and you can take a vacation when you haven't got much in your bank account. So I decided to put together a list of my favorite Cheapside Vacation Tips!
Before I start on the tips, I encourage you to take a look at your BUDGET with eyes wide open and PLAN AHEAD!!!!!
I know! I told you that you can take a vacation on any budget, and you can... but don't go overboard and book a suite at the Ritz when your budget is more along the lines of a tent in the woods.
TIP #1:
Can't afford to take a full week off? Take a weekend. Even two days strung together can be a vacation with the right frame of mind. With a busy family it can be hard to find time in everyone's schedule. For four years our vacations consisted on a couple of days extra when taking our daughter back and forth to college in Pennsylvania. It isn't the amount of time, it's the quality of it.
You know you have 4 days coming to you, but not enough time to plan. Some of the best trips have happened when they were thrown together at the last minute. Sites like Priceline.com, Booking.com and Hotwire.com have made a tidy sum off of last minute trip goers. There are some amazing deals to be had if you are willing to just get up and go!
TIP #3:
Do your research before booking. I can't stress this enough. Hubby and I were looking to stay in the St. Augustine, Florida area, but had never been there. We didn't know if we should book a room on the beach or in the historic area. I actually did book a room through Booking.com, but after more research I realize that the place I picked may have been less expensive and on the beach, but it wasn't necessarily a good place to stay. In the end, I picked a hotel the next town over. Even with a cancellation fee of $50 from the first hotel I will be saving $20 dollars on the total bill and staying at a well respected chain that even offers a free breakfast.
Which leads me to...
Take advantage of frequent flyer programs and rewards cards.  All those trips back and forth to Pennsylvania helped me rack up mucho points through the Best Western Rewards program. We always stayed in the same place during those trips. That meant I was able to add a hefty amount of points to my account. Also, they do a lot of promotional deals such as offering extra points for a certain amount of stays within a given period. I didn't have enough to cover the entire stay, but it certainly helped to cut the cost. All airlines offer frequent flyer programs and they can even offer bonus points by booking your rental car or hotel at the same times as your flight. That way you are working toward your next vacation.
Which leads me to...
Booking flights can be confusing. By going to sites like Expedia.com or Kayak.com you can get a really good idea of what the costs of flights are for multiple airlines. But before you book with a certain airline be sure to check out their personal website. The flight that I looked at for Southwest was at a considerable discount when booked directly through their website. Like 25% less! Also, flexibility in travel times can make a huge difference in the fare. Hubby and I were travelling alone this time which meant that we could travel to Florida during non-school vacation time. This dropped the price considerably. Also, we booked to fly out on Thursday and back on Monday. Low traffic times means cheaper flights. The more flexible you are the better the deals!
Travel lightly. Many airlines have baggage fees now that really add to the cost. We are going with a carry on only. During busy times this could mean that our luggage is more likely to arrive in Florida with us. 
Take advantage of the research that others have already done. Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook... they all have groups that are dedicated to travelling with ease.  If you are planning that big trip to Disney World for the first time you can find a wealth of information and money saving tips. Also, places like Visitor's Centers will often have coupons and passes for local attractions and restaurants. When we went to Disney World we invested in a $10 book of coupons for Orlando and used many of them, including reduced entrance fees for SeaWorld!
Sometimes, the best way to save money when travelling is to ask locals for recommendations. Restaurants are a great example of this. By getting out of the more tourist-driven areas you can find some great deals and meet some fabulous people. (Just remember to stay within a safe area.) A perfect example of this was a place that we found completely by accident in New Orleans. It was a great little diner on a side street that offered amazing food from wonderfully kind people. All well worth taking the path less taken.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing vacation plans in this post. I will also share it with others. Pre-book cheap park and ride Birmingham and enjoy great savings.


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