I love to travel. I love having new experiences. Now that I have two little ones – I love bringing them along for the ride (even if they can’t quite appreciate it yet).
What I don’t love is spending tons of money – unnecessarily – to see the world.
The amount of money spent per experience is inversely proportional to the number of experiences one can experience.
In other words, the more you spend, the less you get to do.
Here are a few tips to slash your vacation costs so you can vacation more or even budget in a few while staying true to you debt freedom goal.
1. Avoid hotels when possible. You can avoid or significantly reduce lodging costs in two ways. 1. Visit cool places near existing family or good friends. 2. Rent vacation units from owners.
With the rise in popularity of sites like VRBO.com, HomeAway.com or AirBnB; renting from an owner is a less tricky option. I prefer to stick with condo buildings because there’s a little more security involved than standalone homes, but I have done both with no issues.
2. Go with a group. This does take more coordination on the front end. Sometimes dealing with a range of personalities can be frustrating. That’s why I have seriously narrowed down my list of acceptable travel companions to friends and family who are dependable and who have NEVER caused me an ounce of frustration in the past on a trip. I love group travel, but personalities who cause stress or tension will travel without me. That said, a great group of travel mates is a great way to spread the lodging cost and bring down the price.
My travel buds are even so cool that they don’t mind hanging out with toddlers. I seriously love my friends!
On my last trip to Turks and Caicos for a wedding, we paid for the week what the event hotel charged for a night.
3. Bring food from home. If you’re avoiding hotels and bring buds along, saving money on food is the next logical option. I actually pack dry foods for long trips or those requiring air travel. I have also packed a cooler with perishables for shorter, road trips. At least consider making breakfast and lunch in house and venture out for a reasonable dinner if you bristle at the idea of cooking on vacation.
Bringing friends along who enjoy the kitchen has a double benefit in this area.
4. Pre-plan low cost activities. Activities can also increase the cost of vacationing. Since vacations generally involve a lot of rest for my family, fun time at the beach is always a big hit. Museums and festivals are generally a great start for budget friendly activities. We’re heading to the nation’s capital later this summer. I’ve been working on White House and Capital tours in the months prior to our trip.
Before visiting Hawaii, we learned that the Pearl Harbor memorial was free and day-of tour tickets were given out on a first come basis. So a few of us headed in early to round up tickets for our large group and we all had an amazing time.
If you’re ever in Honolulu, add the Pearl Harbor Memorial to your itinerary!
5. Cut travel cost. Finally, travel to and from your destination is also a major factor. Selecting destinations closer to home should be the first consideration. Driving can bring down the cost – especially if you have more than one person in your party. My niece is playing a tournament in Nashville soon. Road trip it is!
Trains or buses should also be explored – depending on the from and to locations. It might take longer, but an overnight train ride can be a pleasant way to stretch out and wake up at your destination. Avoiding weekends or traveling to popular destinations during non-peak time of the year the easiest way we bring down airplane costs.
I did not cut out travel completely during our journey out of debt. We may have reached our goal faster, but that’s a decision we made and I’m still OK with it. We did start paying cash for all trips taken and many of the money saving techniques adopted are still in use to this day.
What additional ways do you slash costs to budget in vacations?
Before you go, get your FREE copy of our tips to save more money!