With gas prices hitting record highs and inflation worries rising, the much-celebrated summer vacation could be tough for many Americans to fit into their already-strained budgets this year. But by putting the right game plan in place and employing some tried-and-true dollar-stretching tactics, large numbers of vacation-ready consumers can manage a getaway that doesn’t take too heavy a toll on their pocketbooks, despite all the current economic challenges.
When planning and taking your much-deserved summer sojourn, consider these 10 tactics that can help you make your vacation dollar go farther:
1. Embrace flexibility — The No. 1 way to make your vacation dollar go farther is to be as flexible as possible regarding when you’ll be taking your vacation, where you’ll be going on your trip and what you’ll be doing during your getaway. Such flexibility can allow you to save money by choosing less-in-demand travel times, destinations with lower airfares, and activities that might be offered at a discount while you’re there. Combine a high level of flexibility with a persistent watch on leading discount-travel sites and newsletters such as Groupon Getaways, Travelzoo and Gate 1 Travel, and you could end up finding great deals on your vacation travel, lodging and activities. And perhaps even better, you can enjoy the savings while exploring amazing destinations that you might not have visited otherwise.
2. Consider a ‘staycation’ — While obviously not as exotic as long-distance travel, being a tourist in your own town can deliver many of the same advantages we all seek in a vacation — such as relaxation, fun and family time. And with a staycation, you can enjoy all of these while learning more about your hometown and saving money on lodging, dining and activities. Further, taking a staycation can make it much easier to keep an eye out for deals and discounts in the weeks and months leading up to your time off, allowing you to stretch your vacation dollar even more.
3. Stay with friends — If your family has close friends living in a destination that you’d love to visit, making arrangements to stay with them during your vacation will not only deliver big savings on lodging, but also give you a chance to spend time with/catch up with people you enjoy being around. In addition, by staying with friends, you’ll have easy access to insider knowledge about some of the best things to do and places to visit in the area.
4. … or journey together — Alternatively, if you and your friends are interested in visiting the same destination, financial advantages can be realized by taking a vacation together. Among them, using a property-rental site such as Vrbo.com or airbnb.com to book mutual accommodations can deliver savings, as sharing a house or condo can often be much less pricey than booking separate hotel rooms. Such lodging can also allow you to cook meals together rather than always dining out, trimming down another big vacation expense.
5. Locate lodging outside the city center — No matter whether you’re booking a house, a condo or a hotel room, the price will typically be much steeper when you stay in the city center. But by staying in a suburb or otherwise outside the city, you can typically harness substantial savings on your lodging rates. This is especially viable in larger cities with well-established and thorough public-transit systems, as you can still get around such a destination fairly easily if you can find accommodations near a train station or bus stop.
6. … or even stay outdoors — Vacationers who enjoy camping and have the gear needed to do so can ramp up the savings even more by booking a campsite for a fraction of the cost of a hotel room or condo. Especially for outdoorsy types, staying in a campground can make the vacation even more fun, and it typically offers proximity to a range of outdoor activities. For U.S. travelers, a great place to start the search for a campsite is at recreation.gov, which offers nationwide booking for campsites overseen by the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies.
7. Find free (and fun) activities — Some of the top attractions and activities in many destinations can be accessed and experienced at no charge. Examples of these can include parks, walking tours, community events, and natural attractions like the beach or hiking trails. And by performing a little research before the trip begins, you can have a selection of these free-of-charge options on tap for your vacation party’s consideration.
8. Limit your eating out — Meals tend to cost a lot more in restaurants than they do when you can cook them up yourselves. If your hotel, condo or house has a kitchen, consider buying groceries and either packing up occasional picnic meals or doing some cooking at your rental property to cut down on eating expenses. Either way, you’ll spend less on meals and avoid having to spend as much of your vacation money on tips, too.
9. … and avoid dining in the most tourist-y areas — Of course, a big part of the fun of a vacation is sampling the local flavors, so you’ll likely want to splurge for the occasional meal out and about. And when you do, you can typically dine for significantly less by avoiding restaurants at the attractions themselves or in the areas most frequented by tourists — and you can still get a taste of some of the most popular regional dishes.
10. Do without the drinks and desserts — When you do dine out, ordering appetizers, desserts and drinks (especially alcoholic ones) can really run up the cost of your meal. But by passing on these as often as possible, you can stretch your vacation dollar — potentially even enough to cover eating additional meals out.
Arthur State Bank offers accounts and services to meet a variety of financial needs. To help you achieve all your financial goals, the bank offers in-person service as well as a range of convenient digital solutions. To learn how Arthur State Bank can help you with banking needs ranging from checking and savings and more, visit arthurstatebank.com.