Summer is nearly here, which means we're beginning to daydream about vacation destinations and quick escapes from the daily grind. Now is the time to create new vacation memories to last us through the colder seasons to come. It's healthy and necessary for us to take a few days away from the office to rejuvenate and refocus, even if you choose a location close to home. Here's a roundup of money conscious travel tips to keep in mind as you plan those Summer getaways.
Sign On to the Computer For Pretrip Activity Savings - Now I assume hope you regularly research prices of flights and hotels before booking, but what about activities? Along with the added perk of looking for reviews on whether a particular stop is a tourist trap or worth the money, you can also save money booking "big ticket" items. Museums, theme parks, and other destinations often offer discounts for activities prebooked online because so many people don't do this and are willing to shell out more cash at the door.
Don't be this person, and thoroughly research your destination and activities. In addition to checking out the tourism board, my favorite place to stop is the website of the local paper or city magazine. Periodicals geared toward locals usually have reviews of newer places and upcoming events, sometimes even discounts, too!
- Investigate Travel Insurance - You'll be charged anywhere from four to eight percent of the cost of your trip for insurance, but considering what's at stake the extra money may be worth it to protect your investment and buy you piece of mind.
- Get a Cheaper, Well Researched Hotel Room - Using websites like priceline.com could get you half-priced hotel rooms. That being said, shop smart! Playing up the best features with professional photos is the name of any hotel's aesthetics game, but stave off disappointment (and final sticker shock) by asking yourself these questions before booking a room.
- Consider a Travel Package - You may consider buying a travel package, even if you don't really need it because they often cost less than airfare alone.
- Make a PreVacation Checklist - Prevent post-vacation stress with a prevacation checklist: Set up automatic payment for your bills, sort through your wallet, and make copies of important items.
- Want to do Good? Plan a Volunteer Vacation - Offering a great way to see and experience a different culture, a volunteer vacation can be an especially fulfilling way to spend time off. The concept's not for everyone - no four-star hotels or five-course meals - and there's service work involved, making it less of a "break," but it can be an affordable way to travel somewhere exotic and truly experience the other location separate from the confines of any resort. Here's a helpful planning guide.
- Travel Stateside On the Cheap By Setting Fare Alerts - Airfare sales usually happen early in the week, while increases are usually put into place at the end of the week. Because there's no magic day when the best prices occur, it's best to sign up for email price alerts on all of the travel sites that you use. Make sure to check up on your hotel before you book too!
- Eat Like a Local - Avoid expensive tourist traps by asking locals for their recommendations and save money by ordering area specialties.
- Find the Cheapest Gas For Your Road Trip - A road trip may cost less money than flying but filling and re-filling your tank still isn't cheap. Utilize websites like autos.msn or gasbuddy.com, which track the prices of gas and sort by zip code, in order to find the cheapest place to pump while you're on the road.
- Can't Afford It? Postpone and Staycation Instead - If the best deals you find are still too pricey, opt for a local vacation for now and postpone bigger travel plans for the location's off-season. Instead, use up some of that hard earned PTO and take a fabulous staycation in your own city.
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