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Vacations, when money is tight, can seem like an impossible dream. Yet with a little forethought and planning you can get away from the humdrum, enjoy yourself immensely and still be able to face your credit-card bill when you get home. By following these top tips for finding cheap accommodation and limiting extra costs, you can plan yourself a fabulous vacation without breaking the bank.
Travel and Accommodation
Although snapping up a deal at the last minute may save you a chunk of cash, the uncertainty of your eventual destination can get in the way of budgeting as you may get cheap flights, but it could be to a very expensive city. Therefore, our top tip for all accommodation and travel is to shop around for the best deal and book as early as possible.
Buy vs Borrow
If your heart’s desire is to ski or scuba, then do your research into the costs of the specialist equipment you will need. Even if you already have your own kit, you will still need to consider the cost of shipping it to your destination. Airlines may charge for outsized or heavy luggage, so research the rental fees and weigh them against the costs of taking gear with you so that you can make an informed decision.
The rule of thumb is always ‘less’. Checking luggage generally comes with a fee, and if you are toting several bags, then your travel costs will be extremely high. We recommend taking only hand luggage if possible as this is the cheapest way to fly. Find out the dimensions of your airline’s maximum hand luggage and get yourself a bag that will allow you full capacity with no extra charge.
Food and Drink
Choosing an all-inclusive package where meals are provided ensures that you will be fed and watered while away, but if you would prefer to make some of your own meals, then choose accommodation that includes in-room cooking facilities. Half-board – where at least breakfast and one other meal is included – is a good middle ground. This gives you a hearty meal to start your day, but allows you to sample the local cuisine within your budget. It also means you can fill up at breakfast time and maybe just need a snack before heading back to the hotel for your paid-for dinner.
If you are heading for the beach and love to read, consider investing in an eReader or Kindle. Books are heavy – and expensive – but if your holiday would be incomplete without a steady stream of reading material, then the storage capacity on an eReader will ensure that you are less likely to be tempted to splurge on expensive distractions. Just remember to pack the charger and, if necessary, an adapter.
Depending on where you are heading, there may be local sights that you want to see and these should be included in your budget. Look out for vouchers or deals before you head off, for example on the local versions of daily deals sites. Again, researching your options is a good way to know how much spending money you are likely to need.
Track Your Spending
Spending foreign currency doesn’t have the same mental impact as spending your own currency, so consider separating your total budget into daily amounts, then putting them into individual envelopes. Writing down the value in your own currency of each on the packets will also help your brain to make the connection between what you are spending and how it impacts your budget, and by tracking your expenditure in this way you can stop yourself from overspending.
But above all, once you’ve planned ahead and stuck to the budget, have fun!