Vacations are perceived as a luxury, and therefore fall to the bottom of many people’s list of things to do. Some people are satisfied with staycations, but for others the desire to vacation away from home never goes away. Because I am well aware that life can and will happen, I’d like to discuss three topics to help make your vacation dream come to fruition while dealing with the challenges of everyday living:
- How to find and/or save cash for your vacation
- Discount and non-cash resources that may be available
- Getting ready to travel before you travel
How to find and/or save cash for your vacation
- Set up automatic deposits into a separate savings account. To reduce easy access, set up an account with an online bank and do not carry the atm/debit card that comes with the account.
Save your change
- Every time you break a bill and receive change, put it in a jar. I did this for one year and I saved $500. This will work wonders for people that make purchases using cash more so than credit cards.
Save extra income
- Put any extra income into a separate savings account. Here, I am referring to one time income such as your income tax return, a legal settlement, someone repays you for a loan from a while ago, etc.
Side hustle/part time job
- You can earn income from a part time job (seasonal or yearlong), or start capitalizing on your talents and/or your extra time (cooking/baking service, jewelry making, uber driver, dog walker, etc.).
Discount and non-cash resources that may be available
- I’m a big fan of using credit card points when it comes to taking a vacation. I’ve found points to be very useful in paying for travel and hotel accommodations.
- I can’t account for all the deals on Groupon, but my husband and I used a groupon for a four night stay at a resort in Jamaica for $250.00 (total for both of us) and it was nice.
- Groupon is also great for finding things to do once you reach your desired destination. I used groupons for several shows, indoor skydiving and a helicopter tour when we went to Las Vegas.
- Sometimes discounts are given to individuals that have a certain membership (i.e. AAA members).
The most expensive aspect of vacationing is travel and accommodations. Find as many discounts and “non-cash” options as possible. Try to save your cash for food and excursions.
Getting ready to travel before you travel
Window shopping is important
- Periodically search the cost of trips you’d like to take. This will allow you to become familiar with travel prices and their fluctuations.
- Timing: Know when to book your vacation and when you want to travel
- Hotels and resorts have peak and off peak prices. Traveling during off peak season can be less expensive.
- Some may argue about there being certain days of the week where flights are cheaper, but I have experienced it personally. Last year when I looked for a flight for my cousin’s wedding I saw a Delta flight on orbitz for $250 on a Wednesday. Because I wasn’t sure about the flight I waited. I searched for the flight again on Saturday and the flight was almost $400. I decided to wait until the following Wednesday to search again. I searched Wednesday and the flight was $250 again. Maybe it was a fluke, but I booked it immediately.
- How to book
- Agent or no agent? I don’t have a preference. Whichever way gives me the best deal. You become familiar with “the best deal” from window shopping.
- What type of accommodations are you looking for? Remember, the more luxurious the hotel, the higher the price tag. If that’s what you’re looking for and it’s in your budget, go for it. If it’s not in your budget, you may want to reconsider your luxury level to avoid delaying your vacation. There’s a wide range of accommodation levels between a one and six star hotel. Don’t get caught up in a star count. See “Look for reviews” bullet below.
Look for reviews
- I cannot stress the value of customer reviews. CUSTOMER reviews, NOT the hotel’s review of itself. Before I book anything, I always check reviews (unless it’s a repeat trip). My go to is Trip Advisor, but there are plenty of customer review websites you can visit. Good reviews are. . .good, but I look for bad reviews. I look for several bad reviews. I like to see if there is a trend in the complaints, and if that complaint is relevant to me. For example, the groupon I mentioned above regarding the four night stay in Jamaica. Before purchasing it, I checked Trip Advisor and a few people complained about how “simple” the resort was. That was there only complaint. The staff and service was nice, the resort was clean, but it was. . .”simple”. Well, for that trip, I was looking for simple. So that wasn’t a negative for me. It was actually a nice stay.
Now, let’s see it in action.
My husband and I went to Negril, Jamaica using the following points from above:
- We purchased a groupon for four nights for $250 (with the option to purchase eight nights for $500)
- The $250 groupon was paid with change (literally)
- Before purchasing the groupon we checked online for customer reviews to make sure the resort wasn’t a dump (there were actually a lot of good reviews)
- We checked plane ticket prices on different days throughout the week and on various sites
- We paid for both our plane tickets with points earned from a credit card
- We knew it was a good deal because we checked travel prices periodically in the past
- We spent money on food and drinks, but we left the resort and ate at locally where the food was less expensive and taste better
- The money spent was from change saved throughout the year, and a “travel” savings account that we put small amounts into through an automatic deposits
Understanding the resources available and how to use them together, allows your dream of a vacation to move closer to your reach. I hope this helps.