The following is a guest post from Darcy Evans, administrative assistant at American Consumer Credit Counseling. Summers bring to mind cool glasses of lemonade, sand stuck between your toes, the smell of sunscreen, and a wistfulness for times past when summer meant no school and quiet days at the beach. There is something about sunny days that make us want to escape the banality of a repetitious life and enjoy the nuances of greater world. That is why we go on vacation.
Perhaps you already have your summer vacation planned? Or maybe you are like me and can’t believe it is June, much less almost July and worry you might be too late to plan a summer get-away. Or maybe you’re worried about the costs of taking time off in an economy that is just starting to look optimistic.
Have no fear. This is summer, anything goes!
Well, not really, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun. The best way to plan for any kind of vacation is to start early, decide how much you are going to spend, and stick to that budget. How early you need to start planning depends on how big a trip you want to take. Spain and Greece are supposed hot places to travel this year, though I suspect if you haven’t already made plans, starting now might be a little too late. However, a nice weekend get-away would be totally doable.
Regardless, there are a couple of things to keep in mind that will keep your summer plans economical and allow you to have fun without stressing about the finances. Here are some good tips that should help you no matter what your travel plans are.
- Go to sites like Kayak.com and get deals on hotels and flights. Keep in mind that Southwest doesn’t list their flights on discount site so check their flights independently.
- Does your hotel offer breakfast? Could you keep some food around so you don’t have to eat out every meal?
- Hotels cost a lot. You might be able to find more affordable accommodations if you look at things like homeshares, condos, or a summer cottage. This is especially true if you have a lot of people to split costs with. Keep in mind you will also have lower food costs because you won’t have to eat out all the time. This is also better for you waistline.
- When picking a hotel keep distance in mind. It might be a lot cheaper to stay really far away, but unless you are planning on never leaving your hotel you could make up the cost difference in transportation. On the other hand, do you have to say right in the middle of town? Bring some good shoes and do a lot of walking; it is good for you.
- Check out sites like Living Social for where you are going. Are there any good deals for things you already wanted to do?
- If you are a souvenir buyer, skip the touristy areas and go to the local grocery store. They will have similar stuff at a much cheaper price.
- If you’re a real foodie, travel at a time when it is restaurant week. You will be able to go to those fancy places you always wanted at a much cheaper cost. Keep in mind you will need reservations sometimes weeks in advance.
- If you are traveling internationally, make sure your credit card doesn’t charge you fees for foreign transactions. Also, don’t let the shop your buying from convert your purchase into dollars for you. They will give you a bad exchange rate and pocket the difference.
- If you’re a member to AARP, AAA or anything like that, make sure to ask at your hotel, car rental, theme park, etc. if you get any discounts.
- Find free things to do wherever you are. Check out the local newspaper before you leave to find out what is going on while you are there for free? Art festival? Farmer’s market?
The most important thing is to enjoy your summer, take a break, go on an adventure, or read that book you’ve really wanted to. Whatever you end up doing, just make sure you have fun, responsible fun. That is what summer is all about.