Many times a vacation can be dreamt of, planned, booked, and paid for, but last-minute expenses mean that money might be tight when its actually time to travel. The last thing you want to do is make a tight money situation worse by using the plastic, so give your credit card a vacation at home and plan your vacation with a budget in mind.
I remember the first vacation we took without using credit cards. It was the first vacation I didn't worry about how we would pay it all off when we got home. Before we learned to plan well every swipe of the card for food, entertainment, fuel, or lodging left me with pangs of regret. I went on vacation but I never really left the state of Money Worry.
Vacation Budgeting: Four Tips for Vacationing When Money is Tight
Divide and Conquer
An excellent way of taking control of your money when on vacation is simply to divide the money you have as spending money to cover everything, with the number of days.
Divide the cash between envelopes marked with the days and keep your fingers out of Wednesdays envelope when you fancy an ice cream treat on the Tuesday, but have already spent your daily allowance.
If you are traveling with someone make sure the least spendthrift person has overall budgetary control and don’t give in to any cries for must-have souvenirs which means no one will be able to afford to eat by Friday.
If you already have a hotel booked as part of your vacation and breakfast is included then be sure to rise early and eat for the day.
Refillable water bottles have an up-front expense but the return on your investment will be short considering bottled water is $1-4 each depending on your location. This is my favorite for hiking and this is my favorite for in the vehicle, around the hotel, or at the campsite.
If you're traveling on your own be sure to stop at the store and get snacks. Things like trail mix, clementines, fruit cups, dried fruits, and similar items are a great way to save money instead of stopping at convenience stores. Our family of three saved over $175 on our last 10-day trip by doing this instead of stopping at gas stations for snacks.
We try to limit ourselves one meal out each day and the rest is snacks or packed lunches. This also means we can allot more money toward our adventures and entertainment.
Remember too, if you're in a high tourist area, prices for eating out will be higher than at home so your money won't stretch as far as it normally does at the restaurants even with smart ordering.
Look For Location Alternatives
If you had an exotic destination by the sea in mind but finances prevented it from being booked, then there are always cheaper alternatives to consider which still allow you to get away. Instead of staying beach-front, opt for a few stress back. Rather than a hotel, rent a cabin instead. (Cabins allow for you to make meals instead of eating out.)
And if you're up for it, and you have the gear, camping is much less expensive than a hotel stay. Dust off that tent and break out your lantern!
Create A Staycation Location
The final way to have a most excellent vacation when money is tight is to stay at home.
I know it sounds boring but there is so much potential in staying home and letting creativity flow.
- Tent in your back yard
- Tent in your living room
- Stay in your RV in the driveway
- Do a scavenger hunt in the yard or around the house
- Visit local low-cost or free museums, parks, or art galleries
- Create food from around the world and watch movies that go with those places
Just because money is tight is no reason for your vacation to be curtailed or not enjoyed to the full. By following a few of these simple tips next year you’ll be sure to save up enough to cover your spending money well in advance of your holiday.