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The following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Greg Johnson. Greg is a proud husband, father, and debt crusader who is in the process of becoming debt free. Along with his wife, Greg co-founded the personal finance blog, Club Thrifty, where they encourage readers to “Stop Spending. Start Living.”
It’s that time of year again. The weather is getting warmer. The snow is melting. The college kids are getting ready to drink entire beers through a funnel and a 3-foot hose. Yeah Homeslice! It is time for Spring Break!
I don’t know about you, but I love to go on vacation. Getting out-of-town can be one of the biggest mental health boosters around. However, traveling can put the hurt on your pocket-book if you don’t watch what you are spending.
Here are a few tips to keep you from crushing your budget during this year’s travel season:
Tips for Saving Money While Doing Your Spring and Summer Traveling
1) Plan Ahead – You may not realize it, but making your vacation plans several months in advance can save you a fat stack of cash. Although you’ve already missed the boat to plan ahead for this year’s Spring Break, the good news is that you still have a little bit of time to plan ahead for your summer vacation.
If you are willing to book your accommodations and flights 6-9 months ahead of time, you may be able to save several hundred dollars. Furthermore, check for availability during non-peak seasons. If you are willing (and able) to travel during the school year, you can find deals of up to 50% off peak-season pricing!
2) Rent a Condo – Are you going to be hitting the beach this summer? Rather than renting a hotel room, try renting a condo instead. You’ll be able to save money on food because you’ll have a kitchen that you can use to eat in. Better yet, how would you like to have triple the room at half the cost? Often times, you’ll find prices between hotels and condos are very similar. Share a condo with some family or friends so that you can split the cost and drive the price of your lodging down even further. Usually, the best deals can be found if you rent directly from the owner of the unit. Using websites like VRBO can help you to book a sweet vacation at a great cost.
3) Drive – If you can make it to your destination by driving for a day, do it. If you are traveling with more than one person, plane tickets can cost a small fortune. Rather than spend 8 hours at the airport, why not save the money and spend 8 hours in the car instead? You’ll be able to see and experience more of the countryside. Plus, you may end up with some great stories to tell once all is said and done. As a bonus, you’ll have still have your car once you reach your destination. That is sure to save you money on a taxi or a rental if you want to get out and see the sights.
4) Bring Your Own Snacks – One of the most expensive things about traveling is the cost of eating on the way to your destination. Not only is it expensive, it is sneaky about it as it is easy to forget to budget for these costs. Whether you are buying a $4 bottle of water at the airport or a $6 value meal from McDonalds, all of these miniature meals can add up over the cost of a round trip – especially if you are traveling with a family.
Rather than stopping 2 or 3 times along the way, pack a cooler or a bag full of snacks from home. If you are traveling by plane, this will save you from having to bust your budget on that horrendously expensive airport food. Are you going by car instead? Packing a cooler will not only save you time on the road, but it will save your wallet from a McHeartattack as well.
The spring and summer travel season doesn’t have to spell doom for your budget. As you can see, there are lots of ways that you can still have a wonderful vacation while cutting back on costs. These are just a few.
Readers, what are your favorite ways to save on travel? Do you have any big money-saving tips?
Let us know by commenting below!
***Photo courtesy of http://img.fotocommunity.com/images/BeNeLux/Netherlands/Traveling-by-Hot-Air-a27293873.jpg