Tuesday, March 23, 2010

5 tips for saving money while on vacation

In the 25 years that I have been alive, I have rarely traveled for personal pleasure - but that is about to change. Over the last year or so, I have made it a goal of mine to plan trips and travel the U.S./world, no matter how tight my budget may be. I refuse to be 85 years old, wishing I had spent the majority of my life exploring the world and enjoying the scenery and cuisines of regions outside of New England. With this being said, I also don't  plan to blow my entire savings account on each trip - and have recently realized I don't have to.

Case in point: My and Zach's mini vacation to Bethel, Maine was a great weekend getaway, but also didn't hurt our plans to Save for Italy. By planning ahead and cutting a few corners here and there, we were able to enjoy a nice weekend away without sacrificing our future travel plans/finances. I know a lot of you are also on a limited budget, so I wanted to share some of these money saving tips with you  - because you can still enjoy a vacation now and then no matter what your financial situation may be.

5 Tips for Saving Money While on Vacation

1.) Do your research. Weeks before we booked a hotel in Bethel, Zach and I looked online and called around to several hotels in the area, determining which place was the least expensive, but still within reasonable distance to Sunday River. We eventually decided on the Pleasant River Motel in West Bethel, which was a little more expensive then some hotels farther from the mountain, but we would have spent the same amount of money in gas anyway if we went with one of the farther hotels. Plus, we were on vacation - convenience was key.

2.) Pack a lunch. Whether you're going on a skiing/snowboarding trip or not, bringing some of your own meals and snacks saves a ton of money when traveling. So many hotels have fridges now, too, so it's even easier to bring your own food. Zach and I brought sandwich fixings for our lunches and snacks for between meals, and we probably saved a good $40 in three days because of it.

3.) Sharing is caring. On vacation, going out to eat is inevitable - and frequent (at least for me). I go out to eat for a living, but sometimes, by day 3 or 4 of vacation, I'm stuffed to the gills. To avoid this, I always try to share entrees with my fellow travelers, to save money and stomach space.

4.) B.Y.O.B. Similar to tip #2, bringing your own beer or booze on vacation is also essential. Whether you purchase it near home or once you reach your destination, buying your own 6-pack or bottle of wine at the store to have in your room can easily save you $5-10 a pop - hotels, resorts, etc. charge a ridiculous amount of money for booze. And if you bring your own, you can have more on hand for less money.

5.) Don't shop till your drop. Souvenirs are overrated. I understand the point behind collecting items from all the locations to where you've traveled, but how many magnets can your fridge really hold? When I travel, I might buy one small item at a local gift shop to give to someone at home or to use in my own house, but I never overdo it. My 2-year-old nephew is already sick of me bringing him back T-shirts from various locations he can't even pronounce yet. So enjoy the local merchandise, but only buy items you'll actually use - which don't include magnets and keychains.

What are some ways you save money while on vacation?

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