Friday, June 17, 2016

Planning a Vacation on a Budget

It is summer and for most people that means it is time to take a vacation.  You want time away from real life, time with your family, time to unwind, time to do something different.  Hopefully your family budget will give you a wide range of options that excite your family.  The last thing you want to do is still be paying for this vacation when the time comes to take another.  Here are some suggestions on how to avoid this.

Set Your Budget

Figure out how much you can spend and figure out the vacation that can buy.  Don't plan what you want to do and then try to set a budget--you will either end up dissappointed or over budget.  If you do not have money set aside for a vacation, look at your current budget and see if there is any money that can be shifted, such as your entertainment or restaurant money.  

Figure Out What You Want to Do or Where You Want to Go

What does your family enjoy?  The beach?  The woods?  The city?  Going someplace new?  Going someplace you have been before?  Going to an amusement park?  Seeing historical sites?  Consult those whose opinion counts and come up with some choices.

Decide What Is Important, and What You Can Skip, or Economize On

If your idea of a great vacation is a week on the beach, go ahead and price that beachfront condo--but also consider the budget motel five miles from the beach.  The cabin in the mountains is great, but could you borrow a tent from a neighbor whose kids have outgrown Cub Scouts and camp in the state or national park instead?  Lots of people love the "magic" of staying on Disney property but there are a lot of hotels that are much less expensive just a few miles away.  If the price of city hotels is too high, consider driving in from the suburbs where the hotels are less expensive.

Speaking of Disney, if the kids have their hearts set on seeing Mickey but your budget just can't handle four days of tickets, instead of taking a trip to Disneyworld, take a trip to Orlando or Florida and enjoy less expensive activities for most of the trip, and culminate with a one-day trip to the Magic Kingdom.

Restaurant Meals Will Eat Your Budget in a Hurry

For some people, trying new restaurants or local cuisine is part of the fun of a vacation.  For others, a break from cooking is part of the fun.  For too many however, vacation food means fast food because it is relatively inexpensive, even if no one but the five year old appreciates it.  If you are staying in a motel, find one that has complimentary breakfast and make sure everyone eats before you leave in the morning.  Bring an ice chest with sandwich fixings, chips, fruit and other snacks.  Let everyone pack his or her own brown bag lunch and drink to carry while you are out for the day.  Consider packing a crockpot and leaving it in your room to cook your dinner while you are out and about.  

Use Coupons or Tourist Passes and Research Discount Websites

Saving a few dollars here or there can add up in the course of a week.  Google is your friend!

Consider a Staycation , or Trading Houses with an Out-of-Town Friend

There are a probably a lot of things to do close to your house that you have never done.  Instead of spending your money on transportation and hotel rooms, spend it on fun family activities.  Look for things you can't usually do because of work or school--even if that means the summer program at the library.  If you have a friend or family member who lives elsewhere, consider trading houses for a week.  You each get to explore someplace new without the cost of a hotel.

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, A Disease Called Debt and Femme Frugality*