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Seven Smart Ways to Save Money on Your Next Vacation

Vacations transport people to places they love or long to see, provide new and exciting cultural experiences and create special memories. However, one downfall is that travel can be expensive. If you’ve ever overextended yourself on vacation, having dipped further into savings or racked up big balances on credit cards, you likely know that it is a bummer to have to pay down that debt. If you are wealthy, and money is no object, then this article isn’t for you. But, if you hope to vacation now or soon and don’t want to overspend, read on. These seven smart tips can help you stretch your budget so that you won’t be stuck eating canned pork-n-beans for weeks upon your return.

1) Don’t go on vacations you can’t afford. While it is difficult to say no to a trip to Bali, if you can’t pay for it, then don’t go at the present time. Accept that the airfare and accommodations, food, and activities for this location are expensive. Postponing a trip doesn’t mean you can never go. Instead, it gives you time to plan and save for an amazing trip in the future. Remember that vacations are meant to reduce stress. However, if you come back in debt from a trip, it can have the reverse effect. Overspending can stretch you thin and harm your credit if you can’t meet minimum payments. Thus, waiting and saving up in advance for the trip of a lifetime is often the best option.

2) Stay near where you want to go. Say you want to take a trip to the Hamptons, the playground for the rich and famous on the East end of Long Island, and you discover that hotels and rentals are super expensive there. Why not consider staying in a nearby town, such as Riverhead, where hotels are generally more affordable? Then, make day trips to the Hamptons. After a fun day at this beach resort town, save money on your stay by retreating to your reasonably priced hotel to slumber.

3) Take advantage of less popular times. Prices can dramatically increase for airfare and hotels for holidays and peak season weekends. Instead of spending extra on accommodations, go off-season or during a weekday to save big bucks. These less popular times will not only translate into more money staying in your pocket, but attractions will also be less crowded, leading to more attentive service and less waiting times. Thus, it’s a win-win.

4) Avoid travel during special events. Suppose you plan to visit a town centered on education, such as Oberlin, Ohio. In that case, it’s best to avoid going on special event weekends, such as Parent’s Weekend or during college graduation ceremonies. Not only can accommodations be difficult to obtain, but demand can drive up prices even in neighboring towns. Always check to see what special events are occurring and avoid those busy times.

5) Do your homework, then call for a better price. Booking hotels online can be convenient, and you may think that you are obtaining the best price. But, for accommodations, it’s best to pick up the phone to ask the hotel if they can beat the online price. When there is a lot of availability, hotels will often give you a better deal. It’s also worthwhile to seek lodging where you can get discounts based on membership to an organization. AMAC partners with businesses nationwide to offer discounts for its members.

6) Dumb down your trip. Do you like to ride in first-class, stay in ritzy hotels, and eat in high-priced restaurants? Being willing to give up some of these amenities can turn a high-cost trip into one that is budget-friendly. To save money, limit your visits to the upscale French restaurant. Instead, opt for less expensive dining options. Being willing to buy dinner from a food truck and eat on the beach while the sun sets can deliver a whole new experience for a lot less cost.

7) Trade properties with friends. Kalani lives in Hawaii, and her best friend Leslie lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Every other year, they trade properties for a week. They know each other well, are respectful of one another’s homes, and enjoy swapping places so that they can each have a memorable getaway. It’s a perfect set-up as they vacation at the same time each year. Not only does it save them the cost of hotels, but they can prepare meals in, thus saving megabucks.

Vacations don’t have to drown you in debt. Instead, stay above water by saving and budgeting and using your thinking cap to consider fresh ways to save money. Remember that the whole purpose of vacations is to kick back, relax, and have fun. Instead of overspending and letting debt overshadow your great trip, keep vacation finances in check so that you can come back happy and worry-free. It is 100% worth it. Try it, and you’ll see.

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