Monday, April 30, 2012

Saving Money On Your Summer Vacation

There's nothing quite like a fun family vacation to relieve the stress of your workaday life, iron out the kinks in your short game, or just plain spend some time with a good book on a beach with the roar of the surf providing the perfect backdrop to that whodunit. Unfortunately, summer vacations also have a particular way about them of draining your savings and checking accounts, as well as putting a major bind on your credit card. There always just seems to be those extra expenses that have to be incurred, like that ceramic puppy for your aunt that you just couldn't pass up. Rather than putting off vacations because you don't feel as though you can afford one, though, a little budgeting or even reconsidering where you're taking your vacation can keep you from ensuring that your next vacation is your last. Food really is one of the biggest vacation expenses that you'll incur. Think about it. Unless you're having peanut butter and jelly five days out of six, then chances are good that you'll be eating out every day, at least two and more likely three, meals per day. For a family of four in a vacation town, one week can easily run up a food bill in excess of $1000, figuring $100 per night for dinner, relatively inexpensive eats for lunch, and complimentary hotel breakfast. Sure, you think you're saving money by having a waffle in your bathrobe, but really you could do better. For one, think about where you're eating. Chances are they're tourist traps, so you're going to be charged accordingly. Instead of the usual fare, which is going to be pretty much the same you'd get back home, consider trying some of the mom and pop places that the locals in the area frequent. They'll be less expensive, you'll get a more rounded culinary experience, and chances are the food will be better to boot. Next is your hotel expense. Sure, no one wants to stay in a hotel where the wallpaper is peeling, there's an unidentifiable funk from the noisy radiator, and there's some guy in a T-shirt and his boxers sitting outside your room who says he'll “keep and eye on your car” for you for five bucks. To begin with, check for internet specials and last-minute booking deals. Similarly to the way some airlines work, hotels often have cancellations that they can't fill. Rather than losing out entirely, they'll sell those rooms at a discounted rate, and Voila! You could save as much as half off your accommodations. Finally, there's all those attractions you're going to want to see. Usually, there isn't much you can do with these, since they plan for your attendance, and want to cleave as much money from you wallet as possible. One possible fix is to consider going in the off season. Most places list online the dates they're open and how much it costs to get in. The cheapest dates are the slow season for them. If you can avail yourself of an off-season visit, you could save a bundle on your vacation expenses. Everyone deserves a vacation now and then, particularly from having to worry too much about finances. Make sure to plan your visit ahead of time and you just might find yourself in a very good position to actually enjoy your vacation, rather than constantly worry about what that afternoon of putt-putt golf is going to do to your credit card statement.

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