Don’t you just love to hop in your vehicle and go exploring? There’s just nothing quite like the feeling of an open road in front of you. When we got on a road trip, sometimes we don’t really know where we will end up. Sure, we have a basic plan, but if we see something that looks intriguing at the next exit, we’ll stop! But road trips cost money. Here are 6 Ways to Save Money on Vacations whether you are you planning a road trip or dreaming about next summer!
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6 Ways to Save Money on Vacation
Save your pennies
Some families have a jar beside the front door. Anytime you enter the room, you empty your pockets (and purse) and drop all loose change into the jar. These coins become the seed money for the next road trip or vacation.
One family I know pulls out a set amount of money with each paycheck and designates it for vacation. Whether it’s $10 a week or $100 a month, plan for your next trip so you will have the money in hand when you are ready to go traveling.
I heard of one employer who paid weekly. But instead of paying them 52 equal checks they divided the yearly salary into 53 checks. Then once a year, you would get 2 checks instead of one. This was the company’s way of making sure each of their employees had an extra bit of money for their vacation week.
Once you have decided on which area of the country you are going to be visiting, start looking for discounts. Check group buying sites like Groupon to find out if there are discounts for area attractions. Do an internet search for the area plus the word coupon to find online savings. Some cities offer a city pass that will bundle the main attractions into one discount fee. You might want to purchase an Entertainment Book for the city you will be visiting.
Eat on Purpose
Rather than eat three full meals at restaurants when you are on a road trip, plan your food carefully. Take advantage of the complimentary breakfast bars that are often offered with your hotel stay. If you are a coffee drinker, then fill up your travel mug when you leave the hotel.
Some families prefer to eat a full sit down lunch since it is often cheaper to eat lunch than dinner at a restaurant. OR Get in the habit of eating a snack bar and a piece of fruit for lunch. Pack some snacks to hold the kids over till supper. Whether you choose to eat lunch or dinner in a restaurant, just pick one meal a day to eat out. You will save money and calories if you only eat one full meal in a restaurant.
Sometimes it’s fun to pack a picnic lunch and eat at a local park when you are on vacation in a new city. This gives you a chance to see something that tourist usually miss as well as saving you money.
Pack the Necessities
One of the biggest unplanned expenses of a road trip is the necessities that you forgot to pack. If your kids traditionally take an allergy pill or need a fever reducer if they get too much sun, then remember to pack it from home. Pack the band aids, extra batteries or koolaid packs that you are going to need. Otherwise, you may end up in the local Walmart or Drugstore paying money out of your vacation budget on things you already have at home.
Think like a Local
Locals don’t spend extra money trying to see all the tourist traps. They often shop at the regular grocery stores and skip the touristy gift shops. When you are on vacation, think like a local. Don’t get sucked into the idea that you have to visit every single attraction. Decide on a few ‘don’t-miss’ locations and then skip the rest. Look for the local box store and find souvenirs there instead of in the overpriced tourist traps. If you are planning a picnic, don’t buy the bread at the camp store, stop in at the regular grocery store. You’ll save money as well as support the local economy.
Create your own Souvenirs
Everyone wants to bring home amazing souvenirs. But if you are trying to save money, don’t just assume you have to buy the most expensive souvenirs. If you are visiting the beach, then bring home some beach sand and make keepsake Christmas ornaments. When you tour a museum and want a postcard, maybe you can take several extra cool pictures and then laminate them when you get home. Look around the gift shops and get inspired to come home and craft your own souvenirs.
How do you budget for road trips? Do you plan for travel expenses or do you just hope you will have enough money? How do you stretch your vacation dollars when you travel?