Thursday, August 15, 2013

Simple Savings: Vacation

We recently went on vacation for almost 2 weeks.  While on vacation, I found that there were a few things we could do to save money:

1.  A few days before you go, check the current prices for the hotel that you booked your reservation.  If the price has gone down, ask them to match the current price.  See if they hotel will match the price of another national brand hotel if it is less expensive.

2.  Bring some food with you.  We met one of the other Spendwise Moms on our vacation and she is a pro at this.  I found that I personally don't like canned soup, especially since we don't eat it on a regular basis.  But, I got the soup for 50 cents a can and it was much cheaper to feed 6 people than going to an inexpensive place like Taco Bell or Subway.  Someone brought crackers and granola bars they got on sale for a great price.  Someone else brought other easy to eat food bought for pennies on the dollar.  We even brought some food in our pantry that was getting close to the expiration date.  When we started, we were going to follow a menu plan.  But, we ended up just bringing what we had.  There was way, way too much food and the variety would have been nice.  So, if you do end up bringing food, have some variety in your menu.  Another option you could do is to bring a crock pot and make meals in your hotel room with it.  They are healthier, but also take longer to prepare.  The most important thing is to do the best you can in the budget you have.  Don't spend more money than you have saved for your vacation.  The last thing you want is to have bills to pay after your vacation.  If you can't afford the vacation you want on the money you have, change things to fit in your budget or wait to go on vacation until you have the necessary money saved.

3.  Take out:  Instead of going to a restaurant to dine in, ask about if they have a take out option.  We found that we could easily feed 3-4 people with the amount of food in one take out box.

4.  Think twice about taking young kids to expensive activities.  We found that spending time on the beach or at the pool was the favorite thing for young kids.  Next time, we will know to plan to trade off watching kids when going places that are not kid friendly or schedule things around a nap time for young kids.  Young mothers are the ones that truly could use the vacation more than anyone, yet it is more challenging for them as they try to be involved in activities that are much easier for those without kids.

5.  Look for discounts or coupons online before you go.  We got several meals free because of restaurant birthday certificates for one of the people in the group.  Many places will give you a free entree or a free dessert just for signing up.  If you are planning on going there anyway, consider signing up for their e-club.

6.  Bring your own water bottles.  You can get ice and water at the hotel to fill them up before going places.

7.  Don't buy souveniers.  I couldn't believe the lines and amount of people buying things in one of the shops we went to.  Tons of clutter and junk.  If you can't refrain, at least try to get something that is practical, like a T-shirt for example, but only get it if you plan to wear it enough to make it worth the cost you pay.  Take a few hours or even sleep on it before making any decisions on what to buy.

8.  Bring snacks in the car so you aren't tempted to buy them at gas stations on the way.

9.  Travel light.  It was so nice not to have to pack very much when we went from place to place.  We did laundry one time on the trip.  Bring things that you can mix and match and don't be afraid to wear something more than once.  If you are flying, this is a good one to remember.  Try to get everything you are taking in the allowed free carry-on luggage.  We saw a family that had huge stuffed animals as well as tons of other stuff they spent a lot of money on to buy and will have to spend a lot of money to fly them home.

10.  Have a good attitude.  This may not save you money, but being grateful for what you do have and enjoying the things you are able to do will help you to be less likely to go spend money out of self pity.

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