Here are a few hacks and tips for getting yourself ready for vacations. Some deal with money. Others deal with planning. They all hopefully add up to ways you might get more fun and comfort out of your next vacation:
Save Change and Coffee Money– Make it a project to raise jars of money for vacations. One trick is to always pocket your change from purchases and only buy using bills. That way, the coins add up. Put these in a savings jar at home. Have your family contribute, too. Also, consider buying a jar of instant coffee or brewing coffee at home for one or two days a week. Throw the $3 or so you save (and count the bagel or muffin you normally get) into the jar.
Yard Sale Money– While we’re saving, I mentioned clearing out your house a few posts ago. Try having a Yard Sale for some of your stuff, and using eBay for the better items. Get the whole family in on the gig. Throw that money into the jars, too.
Cut Back and Invest– Last one about saving money, but consider cutting back on the services and niceties you pay for, and putting the exact amount into the jars. Swap your $100 dinner out for a deli sandwich, your deli sandwich for something at home. Go oldschool college and eat ramen noodles or mac and cheese, banking the savings. These will add up fast.
Pick an Inexpensive Destination– Our reasons for vacationing are personal and unique. Some folks crave adventure. Others like to reconnect with the family. Most of us want to relax. Whatever your mindset, closely examine what you really want, and determine what are the “must have” things to make that happen. For instance, if you want to reconnect to the family, why not a short distance drive to a tenting site for a camp vacation? If you want adventure, consider choosing human-powered events like bicycling trips or kayaking over powered adventures like motorcycles and power boats (fuel prices being what they are). For relaxation, is it really
the scenery that relaxes you? Or is it peace, tranquility, good food, and ease-of-experience? You might find ways to save by doing something closer to home.
Alternative Accomodations– I mentioned tent camping. There are other alternative ways to cut costs around the part of the vacation where people usually overspend: a place to sleep. When you consider the overall goals of your holiday, do you want the best possible bed in the brightest, most updated hotel in the area? Or do you want to experience as much of your destination as possible? Look for bed and breakfast lodging, budget motels (travel like a rock band), friends to visit along the way, and any other way you can minimize the actual cost of a place to rest your weary head. Pocket the money you save for that hiking tour of the seaside.
Share a Vacation– Coordinated travel can be okay, or it can be a pain. If you’re up for dealing with other people’s quirks, consider sharing the expenses on a vacation with another couple or family. You can then take advange in some areas, like sharing a house instead of hotel rooms, splitting grocery money to cut down on eating out. Oh, that’s one.
Stock up on Food– One cost inflater on vacations is food. You might be out somewhere in a tourist area and just have a little rumbly in your tumbly, and a quick stop into a local eatery later, you’ve spent $70 for the four or five of you. Keep energy bars, cereal bars, dried fruits, apples, nuts or trail mix, bottled water, and other portable, not-entirely-perishable items in your backpack for when you need just a little something between meals. This also helps with your diet needs (as food in such areas is often high fat, high calorie) as well as your budget.
Plan Experiences not Activities– One thing that happens on vacations is we get a “collector’s mentality.” We decide to hit “all the” ______. In Orlando, Florida in the US, you hit all the Disney Parks, Universal, Sea World, Busch Gardens, etc. Why? Because you won’t be back for a while and you have to hit them all, right? Not really true. Really consider your needs and wants for a vacation, and plan experiences to match. Do you love rock climbing? Plan a day with some smaller challenges, and then a really landmark challenge on another day. Make some time for getting together with local climbers for a dinner. This kind of experience-based planning helps you save cash and time and instead focus on the quality of what you’re trying to accomplish with your vacation.
There are many parts of our life where we roll along without much questioning why, how, and what we’re doing, and vacations seems to be a perfect target. Often, we go on vacations because we have to, because we hear about a friend’s enjoyable time somewhere, or because we’re just beat and need the change of scenery. In all parts of life, staying mindful to the actual intent of what we’re doing makes a big difference in how we do it.
What else? How can YOU add to these tips and hacks?