Vacations help families create lifelong memories and relax together. But vacations can also be expensive – the average American household spends about $1,200 per person on summer vacations, according to a 2012 American Express® survey. You don’t want your lifelong memories to be worrying about your bills. Here are 10 tips for stretching your dollar on vacation this summer:
Most vacation locales have an expensive busy season – the Caribbean is popular during the
winter,when Northerners travel to escape the cold. You don’t necessarily want to travel at the cheapest times of year, or you could be stuck in a hurricane. Instead, look at prices for “shoulder seasons,” just before and after peak seasons. Airfare, hotel accommodations andother travel expenses are likely to be discounted to attract tourists during these parts of the year.
- Be flexible about flying
If you can be flexible about when you fly, you can save a lot of money. Sometimes, flying out a day earlier or later can be significantly cheaper. Flights that have layovers are also usually cheaper. If there are several airports near your home compare prices to see if you can save money by driving a little farther out of the way.
- Plan ahead
Booking airfare, hotels, all-inclusive packages
andcruises are often cheaper if you plan your trip far in advance. However, sometimes the reverse can be true. For instance, if you’d like to attend a Broadway show, you can usually get discounted tickets by buying the morning of the show.
- Compare prices
Travel agents can compare prices for you using sources you may not have access to yourself. If you’re not booking through a travel agent, you should still check out travel comparison sites such as Kayak and Expedia.
- Buy a vacation package
You probably have already learned that it’s often cheaper to buy a value meal than to order a la carte. The same logic applies to vacations. You can save a significant amount of money by booking your airfare, hotel and rental car as a package deal.
- Choose alternative lodging
If you’re feeling adventurous, try staying in a hostel, renting an apartment or house via Airbnb.com, or even couch surfing. If you’re uncomfortable staying in a stranger’s home, you can also find homeowners who rent out their yard to travelers to camp in. For less adventurous travelers on a budget, consider renting a condo or a villa. It’ll be cheaper overall, and you’ll have access to a kitchen for cooking some of your own meals, too.
- Skip the souvenirs
Studies on happiness show that consumers experience more joy when paying for experiences, not things. Focus your vacation budget on trying local food, sightseeing and experiencing the culture. How many magnets do you really need,
- Avoid restaurants
Instead of going to expensive restaurants for every meal during your trip, check out grocery stores and try your hand at cooking the local fare. Street food vendors are another inexpensive way to sample local delicacies. If you have your heart set on trying a particular restaurant, see if they have a more affordable lunch menu.
- Save on transportation
Taxis are an expensive convenience – depending on where you’re headed, a cab fare can cost as much as a weeklong bus or subway pass. To save money, learn the public transportation system and travel like the locals do.
- Sightsee on a budget
You may already subscribe to local daily deals sites. You can do the same for your vacation destination and receive notifications on cheap activities to do. There are also numerous free activities to do in every city, including free walking tours. If you do decide to visit museums and other landmarks, see if your chosen city has a city pass available, which can save you money if you hit up several tourist spots during your trip.
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