For many people summer means vacation. The warm weather and time off tends to come with spending more than they planned, especially on trips and vacation expenses. Whether you plan to travel or staycation at home, you can have fun throughout the summer without breaking the bank. Here are some tips on how to save on travel and other expenses whether it’s summer right now or you’re thinking ahead during the colder months.
Setting a vacation budget: Planning a vacation in advance is ideal and gives you time to save some cash to pay for it. It gives your money a purpose and you something to look forward to. If you haven’t budgeted but still need some time away, set some monetary limits. Do a quick check on your accounts and set an amount that you can spend without going into debt.
Travel deals: If you decide to travel, consider package deals and bundling to save money. There are several travel sites that will give you a break if you buy the airfare, lodging and car rental from them. You may also have some credit card reward points you can use to lower your costs. Check your own auto insurance policy before paying for rental car insurance, you may already have it. Same for travel insurance and your credit card, don’t pay for coverage you’ve already got.
Flying vs. driving: It’s usually much cheaper to drive than fly, depending on your destination. If you’re flying, check for any additional baggage and meal fees. Most airlines will let you bring a sandwich and snacks from home onboard. If you decide to drive, do a quick car maintenance check to ensure it’s in good working condition. To save a little time and money, you can also pack a cooler of drinks and snacks to take with you in the car instead of stopping for treats.
Lodging: Hotels are typically the first choice for most people, but you’re paying for daily room service, have smaller accommodations and may even pay for parking. Consider Airbnb or VRBO for other types of accommodations which may offer a lower price, more room, free parking and the ability to cook some meals, which saves even more money.
Trade favors with neighbors: Set up a schedule with your neighbors to help each other with pets, grass cutting, watering plants and house sitting while each of you are away instead of paying someone.
Discounts: No one likes to pay full price, ask for a discount! Most events, lodging and travel offer some type of discount – student, military, senior, group, travel club (AAA), etc. Look online and in local guides for coupons, city passes and groupons.
Consider a staycation: Staying at home instead of traveling has become a popular option for many. You probably have several cool places nearby in your city that you’ve never been or have been wanting to try so consider those and save on lodging and travel costs.
Free events: If the kids are already bored, some public libraries, movie theatres and local churches offer free events for kids during the summer. Your neighborhood or town may have free festivals and events along with parks and hiking/biking trails.
Summer camps: If your kids like to stay busy with camps, the cost of these can add up fast. Your local YMCA will usually offer summer camps with lots of options and field trips. If you have or know a few responsible teenagers, they may consider running a mini-camp in your neighborhood to earn a few dollars and save you a few dollars.
Utilities: Whether you have kids at home or not, each day into the summer gets a little more tempting to turn the thermostat down a notch or two. If the house is empty most of the day, consider a programmable thermostat or just bump up the temperature a little while you are away. Closing your blinds or curtains can help keep the temperature down also.
Food / groceries: Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors so instead of eating out, stop by the grocery and pick up some things to grill. Try new recipes and cut your dinner bill in half.
Alternate transportation: The weather is nice and if you want to save on gas, consider walking or biking to work, the store and other places nearby.
Gym memberships: Consider putting these on hold for the summer and plan to exercise outside or at home for a few months.