When it comes to vacations, I have a love-hate relationship. I LOVE leaving all my worries and stresses behind to spend a week on the beach with my toes in the sand, but I HATE how expensive vacations always turn out to be. Even something as simple and carefree as sitting on the beach can easily end up costing hundreds (or even thousands!) if you aren't careful.
So what's a girl to do? Sit at home? I don't think so! Here are eight ways I save money on my awesome vacations, so I can still get that beautiful tan without spending all that dough. Use them! You could save a bundle!
1. Check Out Online Deals Sites
Are you set on one place in particular, or are you open to wherever? If you are open to adventure, check out online deals sites like Groupon or LivingSocial. Not only do sites like these have awesome travel packages, but they also have all sorts of restaurant and entertainment vouchers you can use at your destination.
2. Use Your Credit Card Rewards Points
If your credit card pays you in rewards points and you usually just blow them on whatever, save them up and use them on your vacation instead! You can get airline miles, hotel reservations, gift cards and even cash this way!
3. Find Affordable Lodging
Don't just pull over at any random hotel once you reach your destination. Use sites like Hotels.com and Travelocity to get great rooms for a fraction of the price. Alternately, check if your hotel has any special offers, like “buy two nights, get one night free.”
4. Pack Wisely
The more things you can bring from home, the less you have to buy at your (expensive) destination, but be careful not to pack too much, especially if you are flying. If you are driving, pack plenty of snacks and water so you don't have to stop and eat as much on the way. Make a packing list so you don't forget any items you'd have to purchase later.
5. Bring Cash
Even if your credit card points paid for your trip in the first place, bring cash for once you are there. Credit cards make it way too easy to overspend. Set a budget and bring just the amount you can afford. This will make it much easier to stay on track.
6. Visit the Grocery Store
Eating out is expensive! While you don't want to spend your whole trip in your room, you don't want to eat out for every meal either. Visit the grocery store as soon as you get to your destination, and buy the snacks and lunches you need for the week. Then you can eat in sometimes and eat out sometimes.
7. Visit Free and Cheap Attractions
Entertainment doesn't have to be expensive. Ask around your hotel or the town's travel center for free and cheap attractions. For example, you could visit the beach, go hiking, have a picnic at the park, go to free community concerts, watch a parade or visit a festival.
8. Take a Shorter Trip
Lastly, one easy way to save money on your awesome vacation is simply to take a shorter trip. Instead of going for an entire week, just go for 4 days and spend the next couple of days at home recuperating. You'll still feel like you got to go somewhere fun, but at a significantly reduced cost.
Love going on a great trip for less? What other tips and tricks do you have for an amazing (and affordable!) vacation?