Saturday, July 3, 2010

Vacationing with a Budget – Budget Friendly Tips

Welcome to my new summer series, Vacationing with a Budget! I love a good vacation. Sand, beach, pool, what could be better? My most prominent memories of childhood are often the ones we had while vacation. My family always made it a point to take a vacation every year. We often visited beach locations such as Florida, Virginia Beach, and Myrtle Beach. My husband and I have also made a commitment to take our boys on vacation every year. I believe that everyone works hard all year long, and you should definitely treat yourself to a much needed break! A vacation can get expensive, but if you have a budget and keep it in check, you are less likely to break the bank and still have a fun, memorable time! Here are a few of my “vacation-friendly” budget tips:

1. Plan Ahead and Start Saving – If you are able to put away $100 a month for a year, then when vacation time rolls around you will have $1200 for vacation spending! Check out Smarty Pig for sending up your own vacation fund!

2. Pick a location that is drivable – If you have kids that would require separate plane tickets, then your best bet financially is to drive! We live in Ohio so if we wanted to “fly” to a beach location such as Fort Myer’s Florida, it would cost us approximately $1140. (3 tickets @ $380 a piece plus 1 lap child). But we could drive to Myrtle Beach for approximately $400 (estimating $160 in total fuel costs, $200 for a hotel room stop half way and incidentals).

3. Choose a Condo over a Hotel Room – This is the only way we travel! Check out websites such as HomeAway and VRBO for condos. They are often cheaper than a hotel room and you save significantly on meal costs since you have a kitchen. We have also traveled with a group of families and split the cost of a house.  If you do choose a hotel (or need one as a stop) book ahead of time through EBATES or Shop At Home to get a percentage back!

4. Limit Eating Out – So if you follow tip #2 & #3, then this tip is so EASY! Pack food from home that you already got on sale! We usually pack a box full of boxed and canned items as well as a cooler full of meats and other frozen items. We also take plenty of water, juice, and other beverages. It is so easy to just grab cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and grill out for dinner! Plus it is so much easier than getting the kids bathed and then going out to dinner for a 2 hour affair! Watch for my next post on Food Packing for Vacation!

5. Do Laundry While on Vacation – Okay this sounds weird, but actually it will save you $$! Choose a condo with an in suite washer & dryer. You can now pack lighter and go home with clean clothes! Throughout the year I save all those free detergent samples I get in the mail and then take them on vacation with us. The last day of our stay, I do all my laundry in the condo. So we now pack clean clothes and will not have to catch up on laundry at home!

6. Limit Expensive Activities – Choose a condo that is beach front with a “cool” pool and your kids will never want to leave! We normally only do about 2 activities which involve an additional cost. We call these are “rainy day” or “break from the sun day” activities. This could include going to the movies one afternoon, a local aquarium, shopping mall, touring historical landmarks, or a dinner theater activity.

Can you guess where my son is in the picture above?

Stay tuned as I break down each of my tips further!

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