Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Keep Vacation Expenses Down

View from the balcony of our 50% off condo

While we are on our mini vacation I thought I'd post about how we keep costs down when we travel.

Go somewhere within driving distance. If it only takes a few hours to get there by car then you are saving so much on the cost of flights, rental cars, and baggage costs at the airport. Especially if you have a larger than normal family. Check out the Internet for destination spots that are within driving distance from where you live. National parks, monuments, beaches and historical sights are a great place to start. And choose something with an outside feature. If you're choosing touristy locations then expect to rack up the dollars. The temptation is usually too hard to resist.

Go somewhere before the actual travel season starts. Usually motel prices are lowest before Memorial Day Weekend and as soon as the vacation season hits, prices double or triple. We managed to get a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo for 50% off because of the off-season. Motels are just trying to stay afloat during the colder months.

Ask about discounts when booking your accommodations. Some motels offer discounts from Sunday -Thursday's. Some offer discounts if you stay a certain number of nights. Some have online deals that they don't freely let you know about unless you ask. I almost paid full price for the room we are in this week because I was too intimidated to ask about the deal I saw on the Internet (and they didn't offer to me). But the minute I asked, I got it. They aren't going to just offer up a discount if they don't have to.

    This is nicer than our actual house.

Choose accommodations that have free activities. Is there a pool, game room, or fitness center that you can use for free? Are there free games, movies or puzzles offered to guests? Chris is spending some of his days at a conference while we are here and I'm with the kids. Totally works for us. I like being independent and he likes deep study and learning. We'll meet up later. In the meantime I have kids to entertain and I don't want to spend any money. We don't have a pool or cable TV at home and can I just say Yippee? Because it's a special treat for the kids, we've spent all day bouncing between Nickelodeon and the pool. Next we'll hit the beach and search for driftwood and shells. After that, we'll take a hike at a local scenic state park. How much is this costing me? Nada! How much fun are the kids having (even the teens). A ton!

    Heading down the elevator to the pool.

Always get a room with a kitchen. Seriously. If we ate out for all the meals while we are here it would cost more than our condo. It's at least $60 for us to eat one meal out. My kids eat alot and I'm not willing to eat at McDonald's for every meal. I brought easy to prepare foods and we get to eat on our own schedule without fighting the crowds for a table at an overpriced restaurant. I'm saving at least $700 dollars on meals and I only spent a little under $80 to bring our own food.

Pay Cash! It's just not even worth it to take a vacation that you'll be paying interest on for the next 2 years. Don't do it. If you can't pay for it, you don't really need it. Save up, use your tax return, make cheap choices...whatever it takes. Vacations are fun but they really aren't a need. So make sure your financial priorities are in place.

I hope these ideas help as we all get ready for summer vacations!

For more great tips go visit WFMW at We Are That Family.


Jess B said...

Great tips, thanks!!

(And I think you meant travel before MEMORIAL Day weekend not Labor Day.)

Heidi @ Frugal Girls! said...

Your balcony view is absolutely gorgeous!!

Great reminder about booking during off-season times. That has saved us a bundle in the past, too. Enjoy your vacation! :)

EEEEMommy said...

It looks like you're having a fabulous time! :) I'm so glad you got a chance to get away! Thanks for the frugal tips!

Terri and Bob said...

You have a lot of sound advice. We cook both breakfast and lunch and eat dinner out. Sometimes, when we want to try a breakfast place or a good lunch place, we fix the other two meals in the kitchen!!

We also look for coupon discounts on the internet. We have found coupons worth 10% off or having a free appetizer or drink. Well worth the time to look!

Also, in larger cities, most museums have days were admission is free. We always try to find out what discounts they honor (student, education, senior citizen) so we can take advantage of it.

I am so glad you are having a good time!!

Halfmoon Girl said...

This is how we like to vacation too. We are traveling in our 5th wheel across a few provinces to see my hubby's family this summer. To eat out every night or pay for hotels...well, I just can't imagine how much that would cost! What a beautiful condo- you scored on this one!

Miriam said...

That is a verrruuuuhhh naaaaaahhhhcccc room you scored for 50% off!

Pamela said...

One discount that usually saves us a lot if we have to stay in a hotel is the government discount rate. My husband is retired Air Force. I know a lot of the theme parks are giving free admission to active duty military.

Asking never hurts and all they can say is no.

Anonymous said...

Can't do the cooking thing while on vacation, and I LOVE to cook. But it is my vacation and I deserve to eat out. Maybe if I had a family of kids I would change my mind... but then if I had kids, I would be vacationing without them!

Cindy in Ferndale said...

Love the pictures, it's always nice to see vacation pics even if there not your own. :)

Mrs. B, a very peculiar person said...

Terrific tips ... especially the PAYING CASH ... I absolutely agree with you, If we can't afford to pay cash we can't afford a vacation - a vacation is not a necessity.

Sydney said...

Yay! Goonies! I've stood on this very beach. :) Great tips, you rock as always.

Holly said...

I love this! Great ideas. I think you should have a section for vacation deals. Suggestions as places to see, stay and do for very inexpensive to costs nothing at all.

Melissa said...

Good tips! I agree with the commenter who said that she doesn't cook on vacation, though. We seek a balance of "real" food and fast food, so we don't spend the entire vacation budget on food. We also pack snacks and bottled water.

Home School Dad said...

Great tips we are going to D.C. next year and will use mant of those excellent suggestions in the planning and execution of our trip.

Rona's Home Page said...

Great tips!
We staying at a hotel for a few nights to get away from our work/home. Then we're playing tourist in our neighborhood.
I can save money by taking advantage of the local discounts, at attractions and shows.
Lots to do in Vegas!
Great tip!
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It's been 4 years now.
Stop by and leave a comment for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate from vinylvineyard at Etsy.com

Anonymous said...

Lots of places have a "procrastinator's discount" as well, meaning if you book within like less than a week before you want to show up, you get some percentage off your bill.

Kirsty said...

Fantastic! Thanks for all these great tips!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, when some new resorts open they offer mega deals. Once we stayed in a 5 star resort soon after its grand opening and snagged a great deal of $69 a night! Wahoo, it was sublime!!! You just gotta be persistent and willing to "waste" some time digging for deals!!!

Glad your family got a gem of a deal, too!

The Halton Mom said...

I never thought of asking a hotel if they had games available for kids. Great idea!

Have fun on your trip!

Anonymous said...

Great tips!! Looks like you guys are having a great time!

Sansa said...

Great travel tips!! I never thought about trying to get free activities with your accommodations. Thanks for sharing! Another great tip when traveling abroad is to ask the hotel staff where they eat. They usually know where the food is good and at half the price of the touristy places.

Jenny said...

Hi. I was just surfing around some blogs, and I came across yours. It's pretty nifty and I'm really enjoying my stay here. I've bookmarked your site for daily visits, and I hope you'll visit me. I'd love to have you. :) Have a great day and I'll see you around the blogosphere. :)