8 Ways to Make that Dream Vacation Affordable

You know the place: the vacation that you have always wanted to take, the dream getaway, the food, the sights, the fun. But oh, the cost. It seems it has always been a little out of reach. With a little planning and creativity, however, there are ways that the dream vacation may be within reach. Here are some tips on how to go where you have always wanted to go without compromising the experience.

  1. Open a Dedicated Savings Account to Save - Having a special account in which to save can be a great motivator for saving and working toward that dream vacation. Having a separate account can also discourage one from spending those vacation dollars on the constant temptation of instant gratification. Set those extra dollars aside and keep them out of reach!

  2. Find Ways to Make Extra Cash - There are always ways to scrape together some extra bucks in your spare time if you are willing to give the effort. Have a yard sale and unload some of your unnecessary stuff. Become an Uber driver in your spare time. Pick up a seasonal side job such as a lifeguard, farm worker, or substitute teacher. Even babysitting or cleaning homes can potentially offer time-flexible money-making opportunities.

  3. Use Credit Card Points - It may take time, but if you have a card that offers points, use it! Use that card for every available purchase you can, but be sure to pay off the monthly statement balance. The points will never outweigh the interest charges, so be sure to use it wisely. If you are diligent in saving points, you can use them for airfare, lodging, rental cars, and other ways that help you save valuable vacation cash.

    1. Save on Food - There are many ways to save on food without compromising your experience. Look for lodging that includes breakfast. Plan ahead and look for coupons, apps, and other special offers at places you like to eat. Keep healthy snacks on hand that can offset the need for big meals. Get away from the mainstream and eat with the locals for the best local food at great prices. Shop at grocery stores and make your own picnic meals. Use discounted gift certificates from stores like Costco. Food can be one of the best parts of any vacation, but you don’t have to go broke eating great food!

    2. Look for Alternative Lodging - There are more options than ever for alternative lodging. Instead of hotels where you may be paying for many amenities you won’t use, look for something affordable without the unnecessary extras. Extended stay hotels or suites with kitchens can allow you to prepare your own meals, saving on the food budget. Airbnb and other similar sites can help you find a residence for rent that may be available for a fraction of the cost, especially if you have a large family and need multiple bedrooms. Some vacation spots have hundreds of timeshare units or condos that are available to rent at reasonable rates. Campgrounds can also be very affordable and fun!

    3. Go During the Off-peak Season - Not all vacation spots are ideal places to visit in the off-season, but for most people there is a time between peak season and off-season that could be ideal, with more affordable lodging and transportation. Crowds may be smaller and traffic may be better. Plan ahead, as some seasonal attractions may close or limit hours, but if you are able to find that sweet spot on the calendar, the experience could be less expensive and more enjoyable.

    4. Look for Free Experiences - For many travelers, spending time in a specific city, state or region is the goal. Once there, one can find many activities that cost little to no money. Beaches, parks, historical sites, hiking trails and even museums can be free or almost free and can provide plenty of fun and relaxation. Many towns have tourism bureaus that can provide information on places to go that can be low cost but also provide the opportunity to experience the history and culture of an area. 

    5. Plan Ahead and Watch for Deals - If you know where you want to go, many websites can alert you to sale prices and deals on flights, lodging, or other attractions at your desired destination. Planning ahead can help you watch for these deals and grab them when they are available. If you are flexible regarding when you travel, you may be shocked to find some spectacular offers.

    Don’t let your perceived lack of funds keep you from your bucket list! Start planning, watching, and forming a strategy around your travel plans, and you may find that your dream vacation could be closer than you thought.