You are a pretty savvy vacation shopper, and you have probably already taken into account the obvious ways to save on your summer vacation — planning ahead, booking in advance, traveling outside of peak times, optimizing your rentals, incorporating inexpensive and free family activities, and checking websites for deals. Yet you keep asking yourself...is there more that I can do to save on our summer vacation, aside from cancelling it altogether and declaring the backyard as our new vacation playground?
We may be able to help. Here are a few other ways that planning may be able to save you even more money on your vacation.
- Balance Driving vs. Flying – This year is a bit strange in that gas is down, yet many airfare prices are still relatively high due to demand. If you have the time, it may be more economical to drive than to fly to your vacation destination. Make a true family road trip out of it. Check out parks and free events along the way as you discover the "real" America.
If you do choose to take a road trip, remember to check the pressure in your tires. Under-inflated tires can cost you significant money in poorer gas mileage.
- Pack Well – Take the time when you pack to plan out everything you are likely to need. You may save money by packing light and avoiding checked baggage fees, but that can be overtaken by emergency purchases of forgotten items at inflated convenience store prices.
Another way of avoiding convenience store prices is to pack your own snacks and drinks. For a road trip, you can buy your supplies at bulk vendors like Costco or Sam's Club and take whatever amount you need for your journey. Bring a cooler for your drinks.
- Avoid Airport Snacks – The only thing worse than convenience store pricing is airport pricing. For airline trips, pack some snacks in your carry-on bag and take an empty water bottle to refill at water fountains on the other side of the security checks.
- Cut Down on Eating Out – You should be able to splurge on the occasional meal on your vacation, but make dining out a special event. If your lodging allows it, get your own groceries, and prepare most of your own meals. Save the money for activities instead of meals.
When you do eat out, you can still get the most out of your meal by drinking water instead of sodas or other beverages and taking your leftovers back to your lodging for another meal.
- Check Hotel Costs – Hotels with seemingly low rates can get some of those expenses back through "freebies" that are not really free. Pools, spas, exercise rooms and other amenities that you may choose not to use can be listed under a resort tax. Check all the fees and taxes before you book with a hotel. You may be able to negotiate a deal to reduce them.
- Buy Your Souvenirs Wisely – Souvenirs are overpriced almost by definition. Make sure that you get sufficient value out of any souvenirs that you buy, and do not be afraid to haggle over prices. Smaller shops are more likely to consider a counteroffer.
Can these tips help you take your summer vacation savings to a new level? It is certainly worth a try, and it is clearly preferable to spending your summer vacation in the backyard. No matter how much sand you dump in the backyard, your kids still won't think it’s a beach.