Vacationing Luxuriousely For Less – It CAN be done!
OK so you’re thinking of taking the family or perhaps your special squeeze or maybe just yourself on a much needed get the heck outta Dodge vacation. Good for you! Problem is, like many, you work for some (idiot) that doesn’t pay enough to make the bills, much less a vacation of any sort. So, how can you make this work? Well, here’s a few tips to help stretch those bucks and help you have a good time.
Plan ahead. This has to be the biggest number one tip I can give anyone. If you do your trips last minute you will pay and pay and pay. Hotels and fun places KNOW this and they hike the prices accordingly. So think and plan ahead. if ou’re a member of AAA go get their trip books, maps and talk with one of their trip advisors. This along could be worth the price of your annual membership with them. Plan what you want to do, where you want to go and when the best time to go – based on what you want to do and best prices. Also, once again, Google is your friend.
Watch for venu specials and promotions. Most of the places you want to visit know when the soft spots in their traffic flows are and they push promotions to keep the bodies flowing during those lulling times. Know this and work it to your advantage. The times I like are either just before or after a major holiday season. Between Thanksgiving and Xmas have been great times for me and the first half of January when the kids are all back in school also tends to be nice. Study the university schedules for when their breaks and major exam schedules are. Trust me kids aren’t going to be going on vacation in any large groups when they have final projects due and exams coming up…and neither are their parents. May is also a nice time for me as students are finishing up school work almost accross the board and places can be empty.
Shop your tours carefully. Tour vendors like Grayline can add alot to your trip with their local tours of major sites. Use them and other tour options strategically. Face it, you can get yourself from here to there faster and cheaper than a tour company can. So once you’re there, use them there for what they know and do best. Also you may get better deals if you book your tours for during the week versus the weekend. There’s usually less traffic and demand during the week.
Plan your meals and food wisely. Throw a small cooler in the trunk and use it for drinks, sandwiches, yogurt or whatever you like to eat. Many hotels offer breakfast as part of the deal.
Personally, I really like Hampton Inn’s for this as they are totally family and business friendly. I can a few pieces of fruit, yogurt, put together a trail mix, etc., and take it with me. Finding a small grocery on your travels is usually easy to do. Use that cooler strategically for drinks, sandwich fixings, etc., and you can save a small bundle of chow expenses.
Choose where you stay carefully. You can enjoy your stay and vacation just as easily at a place that is cost effective as you can at one that is woefully over priced and under delivered. There are some chains that are clearly marketing their name and have over priced their product and deliver the same if not less than much better priced options. Personally, this is one of the reasons that I tend to avoid Marriott facilities.
Watch for resorts and venues that offer more family friendly options. Some have special kid friendly events and programs that are specifically designed for kids and the family.
One of my preferred websites after the AAA site is nps.gov. This is the page for the national Park Service. You will find an incredible wealth of information here of places to go, things to do and see that are incredibly affordable and an incredible amount of fun. If you look at the park system, also give serious consideration to the annual pass. I can save you a tidy bundle on the parks with entrance fees. Also check you state web sites and counties for their park systems as well.
Read the travel sections of your local paper with a very discerning eye. Keep in mind that most of those articles you’re reading with all those nice pictures of places to see are probably written by somebody’s public relations group and printed as if they were a feature article. They’re little less than an over written advertisement. They CAN have some really good and useful information, but read them with a big eyes wide open filter.
I hope you do your research and have a great trip.
I’m Don Rima and that’s the view From Where I Stand.