Friday, July 9, 2010

It's time for a vacation

(pictures are from our honeymoon in Acapulco)

Memories of a gentle breeze, bright sunny sky and soothing sound of ocean waves serve as a constant reminder that vacation is right around the corner. Not so fast, you might say. Because of economic instability you chose to forgo a family vacation this summer. I admire you for making a smart financial move and not spending money that you don’t have, but what if I tell you that you can go on a family vacation this summer by following simple frugal tips. Are you ready?

Before deciding to go on a vacation lets say to Florida this summer, make sure that you do your homework first. Start of by setting aside X amount of money each pay check to a fund designated specifically for your vacation. So when the time comes to go on vacation, you don’t have to rely on credit cards to cover your expenses and then stress out afterwards how to pay them off.

The biggest vacation expense is room and board. On average one night hotel stay can range between $100 - $120 dollars. If you do the math, 5 night stay can cost you around $500. On a top of that with rising gas prices you just spend $300 on fuel getting to your final destination. Now you have to think how to entertain and feed your family. I don’t know about you, but I am already feeling overwhelmed. But we can fix that! After doing a little research, I found some useful information on lodging, food, and transportation.

To save money on the transportation call several companies and negotiate your price. Before our trip to Maine, I have called several companies letting them know my needs and was pleased with the lowest price that I received. To make sure that the price would be honored with we arrive to the airport, I wrote down the name of the agent, the time of the conversation and his promised price.

You can likewise save money on lodging using, naming your price for a hotel that you specifically picked out and waiting to see if your bid was accepted. Please note that once your bid is accepted, the money is non refundable. However, on the bright side you can select a 5 star hotel and pay 50% less that the price listed by the hotel online. Also use your negotiation skills. Last year I called to reserve a hotel room for a short day trip to Georgia with my husband. It was a last minute decision, so I didn’t have chance to try “Name Your Price” engine. Instead, I called and made sure that hotel offered a continental breakfast, so we wouldn’t have to spend money on eating out. Then I asked if they offered any discounts or coupons and received $10 off our stay, simply because I asked. Since less people are traveling nowadays, hotels want your business, thus are willing to work with you.

Hotels are not the only place that wants your business. Restaurants recently have been putting out coupons for customer use right and left, ranging from “Buy One Dinner, Get Second Dinner Free” to “Free Appetizer with a Purchase of Any meal”. Another way to save money on restaurants is to use, where you can purchase a $25 gift certificate for $11. I have personally tried purchasing a gift card through this website and had a pleasant experience. To make this deal sweeter, you can check sign up for special offers and periodically receive a special coupon code that you can enter at a check out that would allow you to purchase $25 gift card for $3. There are rules with this gift card. Gift card will state that in order for you to redeem $25 gift card you must spend $50 or $35, depending on the price of the card. I do not think it is hard for a family to spend $50 at a restaurant nowadays. I personally think it is a great deal to only spend a total of $28 on food that otherwise would cost you $50.

To save money on entertainment, call local chamber of commerce and ask for them to send you a visitor’s packet guide. If you are staying at a hotel, check with them as well to see if they offer coupons to local attractions. You may be surprise how many websites are dedicated to sharing free activities tips with tourists.

We would love to hear from you. Do you have a favorite money saving tip for traveling?

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