Vacation on a Budget: How to Enjoy Travel and Save Money
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Vacation on a Budget

Whether you're rebuilding after bankruptcy or just trying to save some hard-earned money, you've probably come across the vacation question. That is, "how can I afford vacation?" Turns out, it might be easier than you think.

Make it a Family Affair

It's a good idea to decide how much you're willing to spend before you start planning. That way, you can know where to make compromises to get in under the line. Once you have the golden number in mind, some economists recommend opening a savings account exclusively for vacation funds.

Decide how much money you need to deposit each week (total budget divided by weeks left until vacation) and put a "vacation jar" in your house. Encourage everyone in the family to drop in spare change and consider sacrificing small treats to contribute to a much bigger one.

This allows everyone to contribute to the vacation and builds anticipation. Saving for a concrete goal can be more fun than saving in the abstract.

Establish Your Travel Budget

A budget will require some sacrificing, but will pay off in the end. If eating out is important to you, pick a dollar limit for food you can eat out, or determine how many nights you'd like to eat in restaurants. If you love souvenirs, give everyone a souvenir budget. This way, you're forced to choose things you really like and can avoid impulse buys that seem unimportant later.

You can save serious money by making sure your lodging has a kitchen, so that you can prepare most of your food. Staying in a furnished apartment, a villa, a condominium or sharing a rental house with another family are excellent ways to save money on lodging.

Plan Everything Wayyy In Advance

This is the single most effective way to save money on the road. Think of it this way: the earlier you start planning, the earlier you can start enjoying your vacation!

  • Book ahead: If you're planning to fly, make sure you book your flights at least a month in advance, when fares are generally cheaper.
  • Look for bargains: Take advantage of your library's travel magazine section, the Internet, your destination's Chamber of Commerce - anywhere that might offer coupons for lodging, food or attractions. And don't be afraid to ask outright about savings and special deals if you don't see any!
  • Scope out the area: Look at a map before leaving and find the nearest grocery store, ice cream stand, gas station, etc. When you know where you're headed, you won't have to splurge for takeout right away or waste gas driving around to find things.
  • Bring the essentials: Pack the car with basic food, band aids, allergy medicine - whatever you think you'll need on the road (where essentials can be expensive) and when you first arrive. If you know you'll be too tired for food shopping the first night, consider a PB&J picnic or some other simple meal. Just arriving will be a treat!

Know When to Save ‒ and When to Splurge

Sometimes, paying more up front is worth it. Lodgings close to your attractions, for example, can save you on gas money. If you must eat out on vacations, consider traveling in the off season, when costs tend to be lower across the board.

Enjoying vacation is easier when you're not worried about ruining your budget. With a little planning, you should be able to relax worry-free.

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