How to Plan an Affordable Vacation

How to Plan an Affordable Vacation

It’s no wonder that vacations have become a vital part of the nine-to-five lifestyle. After working full-time for months (even years) without a well-earned break, almost anyone would jump at the chance to step back and decompress for a few days to avoid burnout. But sometimes, the prospect of actually going somewhere for a proper vacation seems financially impossible: airfare, lodging and food for a week out of town can add up quickly. Thankfully, though, there a few dependable tricks that can help make your next vacation more affordable:

Go Off the Beaten Path

When planning a getaway, it’s easy to start thinking about classic vacation destinations, like the Caribbean or Paris. And while trips to these standard spots are definitely enticing, they also come with a hefty price tag. So why not have a comparably decadent trip in a less expensive, equally beautiful place instead? Rather than Paris, where you might be hard-pressed to spend less than a thousand dollars a week, think about going to the coast of Greece, where the exchange rate is great and beachfront hotel rooms can easily be found for well under a hundred dollars a night. Choosing your destination wisely can go a long way towards saving hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on your next vacation. If you’re not picky about where you take your holiday, you can find great deals on sites like Groupon for destinations that may not have been on your radar.

Go During Slow Season

Maybe you’re used to taking your vacation during the summertime, just before back-to-school shopping season rolls around, or maybe you’re someone who prefers to get out of town during the winter, right when ski season peaks. Whatever your vacation preference is, we all pay a premium when we go to a destination that’s in the middle of its tourist season. But the truth is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Even if it’s the middle of summer, when it seems like everyone wants to get out of town, there’s still going to be a beautiful destination (like Aspen, Colorado) that’s in the middle of its off-season. Take a look at this article for great tips on places that are just as (if not more) fun when prices take a dramatic dip.

Purchase Well in Advance

Once you’ve decided on a destination, it’s important to start making arrangements early. If you’re planning on taking a plane, try booking your flight at least 45 days in advance–almost always, the best possible offer will arise between the 50 and 120-day mark. Other simple tricks, like buying tickets on a Tuesday afternoon, or deleting cookies on your web browser so that travel sites can’t use your history to inflate prices, will go a long way towards saving a few bucks. The Flight Deal and Airfare Watchdog are great places to look for airfare deals and track prices.

Make a Budget

Before planning your trip, it’s a great idea to determine how much you can afford to spend while you’re away. A simple, daily budget that tells you how much you can spend each day will help give you the peace of mind everyone seeks in a vacation. Say you promise yourself that you’ll spend no more than $3,000 on a week-long vacation, and you’ve already spent $1,600 on hotel and flight reservations leaving town. The remaining $1,400, split between seven days, means that you can average $200 per day in discretionary spending. Use this number to figure out what sorts of indulgences you’ll entertain, and which you’ll skip this time around.

Blaze Your Own Trail

Buying a hotel room and renting a car for the duration of your trip might be the easiest options, but they’re not your only ones. Airbnb has become an extremely popular resource in cities all around the world, giving travelers an opportunity to spend less money and stay in a private home for a few nights. Your Airbnb might not come with an indoor pool or fresh towels every day, but it will have its own kitchen, giving you the opportunity to cook your own meals and save money on food. It might also be a good idea to look into car rental alternatives: public transportation or bike rentals cost a lot less, and they might be all you need to get around.

Go Camping

If you see yourself as the adventurous type and want to maximize your long-term savings, you might want to think about going on a camping trip. Week-long camping trips for four people can easily be pulled off for under a thousand dollars, and best of all, they don’t need to be planned months in advance. You might not get the chance to immerse yourself in another country or culture, but a few days in nature can still go a long way towards recharging your spirit. Check out our article about camping on a budget to find out how you can enjoy the great outdoors while spending as little money as possible.

Vacation is a luxury, but it doesn’t always have to break the bank. Follow our tips to relax during your well-earned getaway, and save some money while you’re at it.

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