Living Frugally: Be a Savvy Traveler

Making plans to travel this year? Here are three things you should do as you prepare for a vacation. The time away from work and school will be much more enjoyable if you keep expenses manageable and do not accrue significant debt as a result of your vacation:

  • Start saving early
  • Buy your tickets in advance
  • Choose your vacation location wisely

Start Saving Early. About three years ago, the wife and I placed a wicker basket – which later became known as the money basket – in our bedroom. We determined that at the end of each day we would place all of our change and any dollar bills in the basket. Of course, any change found – among the lint in our pockets, in the dryer, or when we’re out on a run and stumble upon a rogue coin – is also tossed in the basket. And while we typically limit bills thrown in the basket to $1, occasionally we will throw in a $5.

Landstuhl, Germany

You would be amazed at how quickly loose change, $1 bills – and the occasional $5 bill – add up! Our most significant haul? About $150 over a 2-3 month period. Start your money basket today and enjoy the loose change as your spending money on vacation. Whether you’re traveling internationally or locally, every dollar counts.

Buy Your Tickets in Advance. If your vacation will take you to a distant location, you will likely be flying and making use of a rental car. Booking your tickets as far in advance as possible will save you money.

Buying airline tickets and reserving a rental car over the Internet – through travel sites such as Kayak (my wife’s favorite), Priceline, and Travelocity – is often cheaper than buying them directly through the airline or rental car company or through a travel agent. Also, keep an eye out for discounts (e.g. military, senior citizen, etc.), special deals, and coupons.

The Holy Grail of Travel [Retire Before Dad]

Choose Your Vacation Location Wisely. While famous, exotic locations can be tantalizing, they are often more expensive and overrun with other tourists. If you are on a tight budget, want to spend your money more wisely, and avoid crowded popular destinations, look a little closer to home. There is probably a national park, a state park, hiking trails, a scenic lake, or a river within a few hours’ drive of your home.

Monument Valley, Utah

Last year the wife and I recently joined some friends on a mini-vacation to Monument Valley on the Utah/Arizona border, about an eight-hour drive from our home. We had a great time and did not have to worry about the expenses associated with airline tickets or a rental car.

There is no doubt that we all enjoy our vacations and traveling with family. Your vacation will be more enjoyable if you start saving early, buy any required tickets well in advance, and choose your vacation destination wisely.

What are some of the ways you save money when vacationing?

James
 

James retired in 2005 after serving 21 years in the United States Army. During the latter part of his career, James' interest in personal finance was piqued based on his own experiences and observations of the way most Americans plan – or more accurately, fail to plan – for retirement and the difficulty many face in starting the process. His most valued education has been lessons learned from personal experience and through conversations with smart, savvy friends.

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