As cabin fever runs amok, many of us consumers start looking for ways to leave the house in search of a getaway. The problem of course is scrounging the cash to plan a trip or even just to go to the beach. In light of the economy and rising fuel prices, one is left with hard cost decisions when it comes to vacations. But planning a vacation doesn’t have to break the bank.
Planning a pot luck or BYOB is a great way to have fun on a budget, but doesn’t exactly get us out of the house. For an inexpensive outing, try going camping. Enjoy the simple act of bonding with nature. A tent, some sleeping bags, hotdogs, and smores go a long way. Rest in a hammock or go hiking; either way, you’ll be melting that stress away in no time and for cheap.
So roughing it isn’t your cup of tea; perhaps you are a social creature, craving the excitement of an amusement or theme or water park. If this sounds more like you, here are some pointers to keep in mind. First, if you’re going to be at the park all day, plan to pack your own lunch or snacks. Let’s face it, we all love carnival style eating, but when a can of Pepsi costs $2.00 or more, and a funnel cake is something like $7.00, it becomes clear where the real money of the park is made. Packing your own food and drinks will save you tons. There’s neither shame nor nothing against the rules in chowing down on a homemade sub in the parking lot of the park. Also, be aware of specials on tickets. You can often save by having coupons, going in large groups, purchasing a season pass, or even booking a nearby hotel to stay in. Specific dates of the week/year can often reduce cost too.
If you are planning to travel further, where a packed lunch just isn’t sensible, going across country for example; it’s important to plan way ahead. Booking airfare and a hotel far in advance will most certainly get you a better price than anything last minute. On that same note, bundling your arrangements, booking hotel and flight and car rental together, can often save you money as well. If you’re driving to your destination, budget your fuel in advance so you’ll know a rough estimate of how much money you’ll need. Take cash; a credit card should only be used for reservations and emergencies only. Cash is much easier to keep track of and let’s you know exactly how much you can and cannot spend.
Where will you vacation; The Bahamas, The Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Disney World, or nestled around a campfire at your local campgrounds? The point is we can do all these things if planned correctly. Always know what you’ll need to bring before you leave, and always check for sales and specials. A friend of mine once spent a weekend at Cedar Point in Sandusky Ohio, and was able to do it just by picking an off date, bringing a coupon, a jar of change, and his own lunch. It can be done, and you can do it too. So, go out there and live it up.