Wouldn’t it be great to get away somewhere this winter or for spring break? Maybe you are thinking about going on vacation, but not sure if you can afford it. Use these tips to plan a vacation on a budget and enjoy a getaway!
It is so much fun to have a vacation to look forward to and prepare for. I love going on vacation. Who doesn’t right? The breathtaking scenery, exciting adventures, and priceless memories have made the money spent and time planning trips worth it.
Now, I am not saying I just spend whatever on vacation without checking the price tag. Actually it is quite the opposite. I spend a lot of time researching, shopping for deals, being creative on when and where we are going, where we are staying, what we are eating, and what we are doing.
You can do the same! A dream vacation is not out of reach. You just have to be creative and prepare ahead. Follow these 7 tips to plan a great vacation on a budget. If you struggle with details or don’t want to spend the time to research and plan a vacation on a budget click here for virtual personal planning services.
7 Tips to Plan a Vacation On a Budget
1. Do Your Research
Most of the time vacation deals aren’t waiting on your door step, you have to go and search for them. A couple key things to research when planning a vacation on budget is the best time of year to go, the best time of the week to go, and when events are cheaper.
Search for the deals. I usually look at multiple travel websites, travel agents prices, and the actual hotel/resort site. Planning a great vacation on a budget does take time. It involves looking up different websites and reviews, making phone calls, and figuring things out. However, it is all worth it in the end.
2. Book Early
They say the early bird gets the worm and this is usually the case when it comes to planning a vacation. Most often vacation prices only go up as time goes on. And if they happen to fall and you see it – lots of airlines and hotels will match a price/give you money back if you see a price lower than when you booked. This is a reason to continue to watch prices after you book.
For example last year I booked a 2 night stay at a Great Wolf Lodge water park and got a pretty good deal. Then after the fact, I got a promotional email for a rate even lower so I called and they did a price adjustment. Then a month later I saw an even better deal so called again for a price adjustment. It was a bit of a hassle, but I ended up saving another $125 on our hotel rates which was worth it.
Another instance where I booked early, but received a price adjustment was with Southwest Airlines. I had booked a flight, but continued to check and about 2 weeks later the flight price had dropped $27 per flight. So I contacted them and they gave us a price adjustment.
On the other hand, there have been a few times where I have been watching a flight or vacation price and it increased before I booked it. This is extremely frustrating and why I try to research and watch prices as soon as they become available.
3. Have a Plan
Have a plan what you will do on vacation once you get there. If you plan on figuring things out when you arrive, this can lead to way more spending and impulse buying. Instead, do your research in advance and come up with a vacation itinerary.
Often you can get discounts on attractions or special perks by booking them in advance. It is hard to completely know everything you want to do when you are going to a new place, as somethings you do not see until you get there. However, if you can research and plan in advance it will help you to vacation on a budget.
4. Book a Hotel That Includes Food
Book a hotel that includes a breakfast buffet or continental breakfast so you can eat a good meal before you go out to site see all day. This can save lots of meal money. Furthermore, it is convinient to eat right in your own hotel instead of taking time to go eat somewhere else.
Some hotels even include a happy hour and horderves or snacks. Taking advantage of thee amenities can help your food budget on vacation. So this is something to consider when you are booking a hotel. I almost always try to book a hotel that includes breakfast. We can fuel up for a good chunk of the day on a good breakfast and usually only have to spend money for one other meal.
5. Do Not Eat Out Each Meal
Unless you got a hotel that includes food or meals, consider buying food at the local grocery store instead of going out to eat for each meal. Even better if you have space in your suitcase, bring some breakfast items and snacks like granola bars, dried fruit, pretzels and nuts along that you got on sale at home.
In addition, save money by bringing your own snacks and drinks along to attractions, parks and games instead of spending quadruple the money on items there. You can save $2-$5 a bottle if you just bring your own water along to places. Also, consider drinking water with your meals instead of soft drinks or alcoholic drinks to save money. Going out to eat is fun and definitely part of a vacation experience. However, try these tips to cut down on your food budget instead of eating out every meal on vacation.
6. Sign Up and Take Advantage of Promotions and Coupons
I have gotten so many vacation deals by signing up for hotel websites, attraction websites who send me coupons, and combining items.
For example, when we booked our Washington DC trip we got a great deal on the hop on, hop off tour bus. Because we had done our research in advance and knew we wanted to do the hop on, hop off bus, it was a great deal to book along with our flight/hotel. Because we had done our research in advance we saved some money on a vacation attraction.
Furthermore, by signing up for our hotel website rewards we were able to get a free hot breakfast buffet each morning at the hotel. There are lots of deals and coupons out there for vacations and attractions, it just requires research, time and effort.
7. Travel/Plan Attractions On Off Days
Let’s be real, depending on the time of year you go certain places can be way more expensive. For example, going to Disney World over Christmas or Spring break is going to be more expensive than going in the fall or early winter because of peak times. Unfortunately, it is just how it is because of supply and demand. It is the same when doing attractions. Weekends are going to be busier and potentially more expensive than weekdays. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best days to do things because they are the cheapest and least busy.
If possible travel and do attractions at non-peak times. Sometimes it is difficult to avoid busy times because of work or school, but just know going into it things will be more expensive (and generally more busy).
Final Thoughts On How to Plan a Vacation On a Budget
A vacation of a life-time does not have to be a dream. With advanced research, adjustments, and smart planning you can go on a fabulous vacation while sticking to a reasonable budget. Start following these tips above and create life long memories by planning a vacation on a budget today.