Summer is right around the corner, and it’s time to start making vacation plans. Whether you want to go to a warm beach destination or prefer a cultural getaway to a cultural oasis, you can take advantage of deals and discounts to save money on airfare, hotels and attractions and have money left over for shopping, touring and other activities.
Often, you can save money if you book airfare and hotel together. Many travel sites like Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia and others offer a wide range of packages. If you’re looking to save money and don’t mind additional travel time, look for flights that have connections, as these can be cheaper. Booking in advance is the best way to take advantage of the best prices. Check several different sites to find the best deal, but once you find it, be prepared, because these are usually first come first serve.
Before you go, think of all of the things that you consider “must” experiences, so you can see how much they cost. If you’re going to Hawaii, for example, figure out what everyone wants to do ahead of time, so you can budget accordingly. Also, if you’re a member of a frequent flier or hotel awards program, check the rewards section of the site and see if there are any deals you can take advantage of. Some programs will allow you to use points or miles to buy meals and activities.
Before hitting up a new city, check out average expenses like gas, housing and food. This will give you a good idea of how much to budget for meals and gas if you’re renting a car. If you’re a AAA member, check out the member discounts on their website. You may be able to save money on dinner and car rentals. This service will also come in handy if you run into car issues in a city you’re not very familiar with.
Little fees like checked baggage, morning coffee and tips for various vendors aren’t typically considered, and they can add up quickly. If you’re checking a bag, be sure to budget for both flights. Make sure you weigh your bag before you leave and plan for souvenirs and other shopping. Otherwise, you may end up paying over weight fees when you’re on your way home.
Making a realistic budget for your vacation can be tricky, but it also helps to ensure a good time by eliminating stress that comes with spending a lot of money all at once. You don’t necessarily have to plan out every second, and there is always room for improvisation once you get there, but coming into your vacation with a good idea of expenses will allow you to make sure that you have enough on hand. After all, the point of a vacation is to decompress, so take care of the stressful part ahead of time.