Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Vacation Savings Ideas

As you know, my family just got back from a wonderful week at the beach, thanks to my parents. There is probably no way around spending a certain amount of money on vacation, but there are also ways to save significant amounts of money, especially once you're actually at your destination.

My parents and brothers and sisters and I went to the beach every year for a number of years when I was a child, and we learned many small tips to save money while still enjoying treats on vacation. Here are few ideas that we've learned:

- Plan your vacation for the off-season. We used to go in to the beach in May or October. There was often beautiful weather (especially in October), and the rates were cut by as much as two-thirds! Even a late August week can be a good bit lower than an early August week, and depending on your school schedule, might work perfectly for your family.

- Look for coupons for local attractions. I picked up a free coupon book from a rack in the front of the local grocery store.

- Bring what you need instead of buying it on vacation. Vacation-spot stores tend to be more expensive than your regular stores, and you may not be able to get deals on what you need that week. The more you can bring from your home stockpile, the more you save. My mom used to always bring paper products, spices, condiments, and some canned goods with us to the beach.

- Look for thrift shops even on vacation. I'm kind of proud of this tip, because it's one that I developed on this vacation! We needed a stroller for the baby, and so we considered renting one. But it cost $30 to rent a not-too-great stroller for the week, and my frugal self just couldn't spend that for a rental! However, I had noticed a number of thrift shops right in the town in which we were staying. At the second stop, I found it: a simple umbrella stroller for $3.99.

- Pack your lunch for the road trip. I come from a LARGE family, and we always packed our lunch and ate in the car while traveling as kids. Not only did it save a lot of money, but it was healthier, time-saving, and just a lot less trouble with a bunch of kids.

- Save on eating out. While we're at the beach, we cook most of our meals at the beach house. However, it's always fun to go out to eat once in a while. Ways we saved on eating out on this trip included going out for lunch instead of dinner, sharing (huge) entrees, and eating sale ice cream at home instead of ordering dessert at the restaurant.

- Take advantage of what's free. At the beach, we have sometimes gone out to play mini-golf or gone on a day trip, but the vast majority of our time is spent - on the beach! Once you've rented the place to stay, the beach is free and is a source of endless fun. You know what they say about the best things in life . . . they're free! :-)

Check out more great tips at Works for Me Wednesday.

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