Living frugally doesn’t mean you can’t ever travel or enjoy a vacation. However, thinking frugally while you plan your vacation can make it possible to enjoy them more often. Consider these areas where you can cut costs.
Determining the cheapest way to get to your destination depends on a few different factors. For example, how many people are traveling together? Sometimes airlines offer airfare that makes it cheaper for an individual to fly than it is for them to drive. Another example is what kind of gas mileage your car gets. Do the math to find out if renting an economy car might be worth it because of what you save in gas as well as mileage on your personal vehicle.
Transportation is about more than just getting to your destination. How will you get around once you arrive? Places like New York City or Denver have great public transportation, but not every city does.
One final thought before moving on to lodging options. Would you consider taking the train? It’s a great way to see the country and get from place to place without worrying about getting sleepy behind the wheel.
The first thought many people have when they think about taking a vacation is staying in a hotel. Consider some alternatives to the cost of a hotel. For less than the cost of one night at a luxury hotel, you could purchase a great tent for your family to enjoy on camping trips for years to come.
By traveling to places where you know people, you can save the cost of lodging by asking to stay with friends or family.
If staying with family members doesn’t feel like a vacation, look at VRBO’s website to explore the possibility of a Vacation Rental By Owner. This is an especially good financial decision for larger groups. AirBNB has similar offerings.
If a package deal is more your speed, look into all-inclusive options like resorts in Mexico and Central America or cruises, where food, travel, and lodging are all part of the price.
Once you get there and you have a place to stay, you want to see the sights. Three tips for enjoying a destination on a budget:
- Get online to find the free stuff available in the area. Some museums have certain days of the week when entry is free. Some zoos have half price days. Some ballparks have cheap ticket days. Many cities host free festivals. Let your fingers do the walking across your keyboard to find options that fit your interests.
- Live like a local to avoid the tourist trap prices and truly experience a new location. Think Eat, Pray, Love or The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
- Limit yourself to one big attraction per day instead of trying to do everything in one trip.
If you eat out for every meal of your vacation and you vacation for a week, that’s paying for 21 meals at a restaurant during your vacation. For a family of four, that adds up to a big chunk of your vacation budget. Use that money for something more fun by taking some vacation food shortcuts.
- Pack a cooler, especially if you’re driving to your destination. Fill it with snacks, drinks, and a picnic lunch. Once you arrive at the hotel (or wherever you’re staying), you can restock with milk for cereal in the morning and lunchmeat for sandwiches.
- Budget per meal. Have a set dollar amount in mind for each meal and then stick to it. If you go over it by splurging on local cuisine one night, balance the budget by eating a granola bar or apple for one meal the net day.
- Find a grocery store and buy lunch there. You could get a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and a bag of apples for the entire family for less than the cost of one sit-down meal.
- Cook for yourself. This works best if you’re staying with family and friends, in a vacation rental or condo, or at an AirBNB.
- Pack snacks, even if you’re flying. Granola bars, mixed nuts, and dried fruit fit well in the crannies of your luggage. Buy them in bulk at your local warehouse store before you leave and enjoy them throughout the week while you’re gone.
- Pack refillable water bottles. You’ll save dozens of dollars per person by having your own water bottle instead of buying one every time you get thirsty. As a side note, buy a gallon of drinking water at the grocery store to put in the car with you so you’ll have it in transit. Usually you can get one for less than a dollar per gallon, which is about one-fourth the price of buying bottles individually at a convenience store. You can fill your bottles at the destination using water fountains or bathroom faucets at the bargain price of nothing!