ICFE eNEWS #13-08 - May 29th 2013

11 Great Tips To Make Your Vacation More Affordable
By Jim Garnett, a/k/a Ask Mr.G, a member of the ICFE's Board of Educational Advisors.

Family vacations can be great opportunities for making memories. I still remember vivid scenes from childhood vacations traveling in our 1960 Nash Rambler. We often traveled to see relatives, but once in a while headed to a someplace like the Grand Canyon, the Black Hills, or the Ozarks.

Our family was not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I discovered later on in life, that we were actually quite poor. Interestingly enough, not one of those vacation memories I hold dear has anything to do with an activity that cost money.

Therefore, even when finances are lean, a little forethought and planning can create a great family vacation filled with one memory after another.

Here are a few tips that will help you save money on your next vacation.

  1. Stay in one place. The cost of gasoline can be cut a lot if you travel to one area and stay there. This presupposes that there is something to see and do in that location.
  2. Rent multiple nights at a time. Staying in one area also enables you to rent by the week instead of one night at a time. Discounts always await those who stay more than just a night. This also eliminates having to pack up everything and move the family every day.
  3. Shop Internet prices. There are bargains to be found for those who will spend a few minutes on Priceline or web surf to see if any destination hotels are running specials.
  4. Try Camping. It costs around $12-$25 to spend a night at these campgrounds, which is much less than the cost of a motel room these days. Parks are typically run by park rangers, who also provide security at the campgrounds. Each campsite will likely have a fire-pit, charcoal grill, and a picnic table. There will be an area to set up your tent or camper, and a place to pull your car off the road. These parks usually have buildings that enclose bathrooms and showers. You'll also find drinking water available, places to do your dishes, and trash containers.
  5. Vacation in the non-peak season. If you vacation in the off-season, the crowds will be smaller, the lines will be shorter, the beaches will be emptier, and prices will be lower. Campgrounds can be great places to stay when everyone else is gone!
  6. Stay at relatives. I am sure that this can be a blessing or a curse, but if both families have kids, a few days with kinfolk can be pretty neat. Plus, one of the greatest vacation expenses, lodging is eliminated.
  7. Look for destinations where the fun is free. A trip to the Tetons, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, a State Park, or the beach offers days of exciting things to do at little cost.
  8. Check out local guidebooks. Most of these contain discount coupons for local attractions.
  9. Eat out only once a day. A place with a built in kitchen can let you choose which meals to eat out. A hotel with a complimentary breakfast can take care of breakfast. A cooler with soft drinks, fruit, chips, and sandwiches will satisfy most families for lunch. This approach can enable your family you to save hundreds of dollars a week or enjoy eating the evening meal at a more expensive restaurant.
  10. Bring home free souvenirs. Most expensive gift shop souvenirs will hold no better memories than a vase of sea shells, a piece of driftwood, or best of all - a family picture on location!

All of these tips can save you money or at least allow you to spend your vacation money on your vacation priorities. But the last tip may well be the biggest saver!

  1. Pay yourself in advance. The average vacation costs the American family around $1600 and many charge this cost on credit cards. To pay off a $1600 vacation in minimum payments, will take 14 years and 9 months, and will actual cost you a whopping $3399 for your $1600 vacation!

How much better to plan ahead for vacation. That $1600 vacation would require an auto deduct of only $135 per month from your paycheck to a vacation account. If you only have 6 months to prepare, $270 needs to be set aside. The point is simple - when vacation is over, you want its memories to remain for years, not its payments! Paying for your vacation in advance will allow you to take two vacations for what the cost of charging one on credit cards would be!

To be sure, family vacations can be a great time for making memories.

I hope these tips can help you focus even more on having fun because you have your vacation finances under control.

Ask Mr. G
© Jim Garnett, The Debt Doctor
AskMrG Consulting, LLC
2216 SW 35th Street
Ankeny, IA 50023

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Sent by:

Paul Richard
President - Executive Director
Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE)

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