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10 Tips For Planning a Vacation on a Budget

By - Posted on February 24, 2014

You don’t have to rule out a vacation this year just because you have a limited budget.  Here are some tips you can use to help you plan a getaway that won’t break the bank.

  1. Research – If you have a flexible schedule, be sure to do your research and find out what the least expensive times to fly are.  Expedia’s Trend Tracker allows you to compare airfare prices at different times of the year.
  2. Plan early – Start planning your vacation far in advance – months if possible.  You’ll give yourself enough time to compare deals and can often take advantage of the lowest prices on airfare.  Plus, your desired hotel will be more likely to have vacancy.
  3. Check websitesTravelocity, Expedia, Orbitz, Kayak, Hotels.com, and other travel websites offer easy ways to search for and compare airfares, accommodations, and even car rentals.  You can book online and usually save money if you book a flight and a hotel together at the same time.
  4. Fly mid-week – Flights are usually cheaper on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and late at night and early in the morning.
  5. Call hotels directly – If you are interested in a hotel you found online, call the hotel directly and see if you can get an even lower rate than what is advertised on the website.  Also inquire about any special discounts that might be available, including military discounts, AAA, etc.
  6. Travel off season – Most places have a vacation “off season.”  Airfare and hotels are usually cheaper during the off-peak time, plus you’ll have to deal with fewer crowds.
  7. Read the fine print – When looking at airfares be sure you understand their policies regarding taxes, cancellations, carry-on bags, in-flight meals, and more. You don’t want to be surprised by any extra fees at the last minute.
  8. Don’t fly – If possible, consider alternative ways to get to your vacation destination.  If you can allot for some extra travel time, driving your own car or taking a train or bus can save you considerable amounts of money. But do be honest with yourself – if you know your children aren’t up for a 10 hour bus ride, it might not be the best choice for your family.
  9. Look for inexpensive activities – Prior to traveling, do some research and find museums, beaches, historical sites, national parks, or other places that have inexpensive or even free admission.  Be creative!  Think about taking a walk on a hiking trail, visiting a wildlife refuge, or checking out a local street fairs or festival.  Some activities also offer reduced admission fees if you arrive late in the day.
  10. Eat cheap – Food can take a big bite out of your budget.  Look for a hotel that includes a free breakfast with your stay, or stay in a hotel that has a kitchen so you can make your own meals.  Visit to a supermarket when you get to your destination and stock up on some snacks and drinks to keep in your room and to bring with you while you’re on-the-go.  If you are traveling with kids, look for restaurants that offer free or discounted children’s meals.  And don’t forget to scour your free travel guides from the hotel lobby for money-saving dining coupons.

Posted in Financial Tips & Advice