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Big Vacation Fun for a Smaller Price Tag

What's your ideal vacation? Relaxing at the beach? A trip to NYC or San Francisco? Unwinding in the mountains? While the cost of a vacation can add up quickly, there are ways you can enjoy time off without spending more than you can afford.

Check out Your Hometown Like a Tourist
Most of us take our hometown for granted, but when you look at your town like a tourist, you're sure to find lots of great places to visit and fun things to do. Look for festivals and free or inexpensive concerts. Many museums have free admission days. The summer is also prime time for events in local parks like nature walks and night hikes. If you have a minor league baseball team, tickets are much less expensive than in the majors. Some grocery stores offer coupons for reduced admission to local zoos and aquariums. And since you won't be spending money on a hotel, you can spend more on activities and a few meals on the town.

Make Your Vacation a Group Affair
One of the big ticket items on any vacation is the cost of a place to stay. The cost of a moderate hotel room can run $500 a week or more for one room. To cut that cost and get more space, consider vacationing with friends or family and renting a house or condo. With a kitchen, you'll also be able to lower your food costs by making some of your meals at home or packing lunches for your excursions instead of paying for less tasty, more expensive fast food. It might even give you the chance to have an evening out with your partner, with couples taking turns watching all the kids.

Try an All-Inclusive Vacation
Even with the best intentions, costs on your vacation can add up quickly. Meals and snacks, renting a bike or kayak, seeing a show or a movie can add up to hundreds of dollars or more. If you choose an all-inclusive vacation, the cost of airfare, lodging, food and drinks, and entertainment are included in the price. That can help you stick to your vacation budget better. Cruises and package deals (airfare, accommodations and a rental car) offer another option for keeping costs under control. There are a number of websites that specialize in all-inclusive and cruise vacations where you can compare prices and find the vacation that fits your budget.

Simple Ways to Save

  • Cash in some of your credit card reward points for restaurant gift cards that you can use on vacation.
  • Take advantage of discounts on attractions, hotels and rental cars offered by your auto club, bank or credit union, or credit card company.
  • Make sure you buy things like sunscreen, shampoo and pain reliever at home and bring them with you. Costs for these items can be much higher in vacation towns.

One way to make sure your vacation doesn't break your budget is to save for your trip ahead of time. Figure out how much you want to spend and have a portion of that amount automatically deducted from your paycheck and deposited in a savings account. Then, when you come home from vacation, you won't face the stress of big credit card bills.


This article is for informational purposes only. For personalized financial advice, you should contact a qualified financial advisor.

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