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Believe it or not, spring is right around the corner – and summer is approaching just as quickly. If you plan to go on vacation when the weather warms up, you need to start your planning while the nights are still chilly.

Don’t worry! We have a few tips to help get your plans to plan started.

 

Create the Budget and Stick to It
Vacation is all about letting loose and having fun, but that care-free attitude needs to stay in check when it comes to your expenses. Create a reasonable vacation budget now and be sure to set overall maximum spend limits. To fully execute a good vacation budget, give an expense limit to every aspect of the vacation: travel, lodging, food, entertainment, activities/adventures/tickets, clothing, and emergency expenses.

• Travel – Are you driving, flying, or getting there by boat? Regardless of transportation type, getting there is going to cost you. Also, don’t forget about transportation once you reach your destination. Will you utilize public transportation (buses, subways, etc.) or taxi services? Can you use peer-driver services like Lyft at your destination?

• Lodging – There are several alternatives to expensive hotel stays. Try checking out vacation rentals. There are many apps and websites ( like Airbnb and VRBO) that connect property owners with travelers looking for a place to stay. Is camping an option? Some of the nation’s most popular destinations have RV parks and campgrounds within an hour of the main attractions. If you’re open to considering a digital detox, pitching a tent and enjoying the great outdoors can be an economical option. And many of today’s campgrounds include clubhouses, showers, and other amenities to make your stay more comfortable. If possible, you may also want to consider staying with nearby family or friends.

• Food – This one is simple. The less you eat out, the more you save. And the less you eat like a tourist, the more you save. If you’re staying at a hotel, avoid purchasing food at the hotel. The markup on food and drink items (like bottled water, soft drinks, candy, and snacks) can be upwards of 200%. Grocery shop while at your destination if possible and you could potentially save hundreds over the course of your stay. A quick trip to the local grocery store could give you a week’s worth of food for the cost of one meal at that fancy restaurant downstairs.

The Anti-Plan Technique
This is a plan to not plan. That’s right, a plan to not plan. By not nailing down the specifics of your vacation you open the door to several exciting and less-expensive opportunities. This is uniquely beneficial when it comes to several popular vacation types.



Thinking about taking a cruise? Waiting until the last minute in this case may be beneficial to your pockets. Being one of the last passengers can land you a nice bargain on what is usually a very expensive trip. Cruise lines offer amazing last-minute deals. Why? Well, every empty cabin is a loss of revenue for the cruise line. The cruise line would much rather make half the cost of the usual ticket than leave the port making no money at all on the empty room. Since it’s uncommon for most Americans to have the ability to drop everything and sail across the Caribbean, cruise lines often do all they can to entice anyone with the capability to fill the empty spot.



The same logic applies to many sight-seeing tours. Tour companies want every seat filled. Think about it. Regardless of the paid capacity, the cost of the tour for the tour company remains the same. So if they can put people in empty seats, even at a discounted rate, it is better for their bottom line. Remember, every dollar counts.