Vacations have many benefits, which include improved mental and physical health, closer family ties, and a new perspective. You may have the desire to take a vacation, but hesitate because holidays cost money. When you have tight finances, it can be tempting to avoid days off from work to prevent from falling further behind financially.
However, receiving the benefits of improved productivity and increased mental power can offset the cost. Finding ways to save money and traveling during the spring shoulder season can be a perfect balance. You will gain the benefits of time away from your job while staying within a small budget.
The following spring travel tips will help you enjoy your vacation time without breaking the bank.
Set an Itinerary Before You Travel
Advance planning can lead to big savings. Small proactive steps like signing up for a hotel rewards program and getting on the email list of discount travel websites can uncover savings when destinations run last minute specials. Receiving newsletters from the tourist boards at potential vacation spots and discount websites like Travel Zoo are good places to start.
If you do not have enough saved to travel for a week, plan a mini-vacation to a destination a few hours away. A long weekend to the coast, a nearby lake, or mountain destination in the spring can be half the cost of summer travel. Spring is a good time to find specials because most places want more business and are willing to lower prices to get it.
A semi-local trip will save on transportation costs because you can drive to the destination. Traveling within close proximity to home also allows for last minute planning, which can increase the savings.
Check Out Alternative Lodging Options
Free Options: Staying with friends and family or finding free accommodations through websites such as Couchsurfing. If you don’t mind the lack of privacy, you can meet locals while eliminating the cost of a room. Social media channels provide the means to stay in touch with people worldwide.
Home Exchanges are another form of nearly free lodging. You pay an annual fee to a company, which provides a database of potential home exchangers. Members search for families who want to visit your city or town and arrange a swap at no additional cost.
Hostels and camping are another source of inexpensive lodging. Hostels can offer communal accommodations or private rooms. Many campsites now have cabins, which avoid the cost of renting an RV or the need to buy or bring camping equipment.
Airbnb is a popular form of room sharing, which can provide either a spare bedroom or an entire home for your stay. The prices typically fall below hotel rates, and you gain the benefit of kitchen access, which can lower food costs.
VRBO and other rental companies provide vacation rental homes, which are an excellent choice when traveling with a family or a group. You benefit from additional space as well as kitchen and laundry access. Homes may not provide the same level of amenities as a resort, but can save money when compared to renting multiple hotel rooms.
Look for Discounts and Coupons
Discounts might include a percentage off for staying consecutive nights or combining hotels with rental cars or restaurants to lower the overall cost of travel.
When planning activities, look for second-day savings or discounts for an afternoon arrival. Websites specializing in local discounts include Groupon or Living Social, which include savings on food, activities, hotels, and vacation packages. You can save an average of 40% off the full price.
Citi Pass is a discount program which major cities use to promote their most popular attractions, lowering the entrance fees by as much as 50%. You can also find on the spot discounts for students, seniors, AAA, and AARP members at many locations.
Restaurant.com offers savings at restaurants across the country.
Talk to Locals
Price and marketing do not always reflect the value of an activity. Soliciting advice from locals can help you sort through the hype to find meaningful experiences.
For example, there are between 355-370 zoos, 45,000 caves to explore, 48-52 accredited aquariums, and 35,000 museums in the United States. Each attraction does not offer the same quality or experience across companies and locations. Locals have keener insight on the best options based on your interests. You can find local recommendations through social media channels, local bloggers, and trip advisor.
Travel in Groups
Dividing costs among family and friends is an effective way to save money while strengthening bonds. You can lower lodging costs by renting a larger home and splitting the cost. Share food costs by splitting the cost of food and cooking responsibilities, without spending your vacation in the kitchen. In some cases, it might make sense to rent a larger vehicle and share transportation costs. Larger groups might also benefit from additional discounts at venues.
Bring What You Need
Buying and renting items you left at home add to the cost of travel. Before packing, look at the weather report and let that guide your packing list. You can also bring items such as bikes, beach chairs, a cooler, or hiking gear, to eliminate rental costs.
Choose Souvenirs Carefully
Souvenir shops encourage you to spend money for friends and family. To save money, create a gift list before leaving home. Decide who you want to buy for and set a price range. On your shopping adventures, buy a specific item for a certain person, to limit purchases. You can also save money by frequenting local stores away from tourist centers.
It is often a better use of funds to spend money on activities that develop memories, rather than trinkets that will break and wind up in the trash.
Spring is an excellent time to save money on travel. In many destinations, the shoulder season will feature lower rates on lodging, frequent access to discounts, and fewer crowds.