Well its that time of year here in New England. The weather is warming up, people are walking their dogs and running again, and the word vacation is being tossed around with immeasurable ease. Its spring! And with spring comes some of the peak travel seasons in the United States. Families will shell out thousands and thousands of dollars to travel to warm destinations and get a jump start on summer.
Knowing this, there are some very simple mistakes that people make that can cost thousands of dollars. By taking some very simple steps, it becomes much easier to make the most of the money you invest in a vacation.
1) Don't travel at peak times- It is so easy to look at a calendar, pick one week and search for the best rate for that week. Have you ever thought about the countless amount of other people that are looking to travel those same weeks? Now if you have to work around work schedules or school breaks this can be tricky but it may be well worth the time. I recently looked at flights to and from the same destination within 2 weeks of one another at a price difference of almost $500. If the flights are priced accordingly, you can be sure that hotels, cars and any other commodity are as well.
2) Clear your cookies- This one is a new one to me but it makes one think. Have you ever looked up a flight, called a spouse to talk it over and gone back to the same place but found a different price? Try clearing your cookies. I am not accusing anyone of anything, well maybe I am, but I tried this technique and amazingly, the prices did not change once I revisited. Cookies are stored in your browser history and sites can track where you have been. Ever notice leaving a site and finding an ad for that site in the banners on your next webpage? Airlines will tell you that prices are affected by supply and demand, but it seems improbable that every flight I have ever looked at changes every time I look at the pricing.
3) Prioritize- A lot of people travel to destinations with the whole world in front of them. People want to travel to Orlando, hit all Disney parks, see relatives, discover a pot of gold, and you get the idea. When you travel, think of it like going to the grocery store. If you go without a list you walk out with $300 in groceries and a new skateboard. If you have a list, you get in, get out, and spend $82.76. The same holds true on a vacation, prioritize the things that are important to you. If you want to relax on a beach for 3 days, allot some time for that to keep you from getting sidetracked.
4) Know People- "But I want to get away" you say to this point before realizing that I can't hear you. I know you do, as do we all, but it never hurts to travel close to someone. There are so many things you can avoid by knowing a local. It is the best form of research you can have. Everything in a tourist destination is established to get you, the tourist, to their business. Novelty key chains and shot glasses, oversized t-shirts, and expensive dive bars are just a few. No tourist knows how to avoid these places because they are there for a week at a time, but do you think locals pay 16.75 for a burger year round? Not a chance, yet somehow, they survive. Knowing someone from the area gives you an awesome budgeting edge and requires you to merely visit an old friend.
5) Budget- Now this may seem incredibly naive, who doesn't have a budget for a vacation? But when you think about your last vacation and that beach frisbee you bought, right after the bike rental down the beach, to go to that fancy eatery overlooking the water, you can see where a budget can slip away. I am not saying don't have fun, but you would end up paying a hundred dollars for beach activities at home, then there is no need to do that somewhere just because you are on vacation.
By following these steps you can have that vacation you have always wanted without felling the monetary sunburn when you come home. Avoiding the after vacation finance crash makes your time off that much more relaxing. If you have more tips to share, please post them below in the comments section.