Vacations – Using Frugal Tips

Q.  Vacations can blow our budgets very quickly and sneak up on us at the same time. However, I am confident most of you have some frugal ideas for vacations and travel that would help us plan better and prepare better for them at the same time. I would sure enjoy hearing of those ideas. A.  All the categories of my budget suck up every cent I make (includes 401k & a liquid savings account). I just came back from a vacation so now the credit card is a bit higher. I’ll pay it off by February, instead of December. But once that is done, I will have $250.00/month with which I can “play around.”   I already know I’m going to put a bigger chunk to the car payment, but will put at least $100.00 into a vacation fund. If plans go well, I will have $700.00 in August of next year and that might be going toward a backpacking trip (less expensive than a leisurely hotel experience for a week) in Colorado! My budget is solid enough so I will have emergency money along side of this vacation stash – Julieane A.  Have several friends that take trips to Rome, Egypt.or Caribbean Islands. They always take 1 or 2 bags of M&Ms or some simple treats. One women i know packed 1 suitcase with canned food/sodas for Caribbean trip.Why??? Another Man/women went on trip to same island and paid 5 dollars for small bag of chip/4 dollars for 1 soda. That’s Aruba – Quinn A.  When I was a kid we went on a 3 week cross-country trip with the whole family (6 in a regular sedan, kids age 6-18). One frugal thing that I remember is that we had a picnic for lunch almost every day. The trunk was so full of our suitcases and stuff that my dad packed the last sack of groceries (pop cans, canned meat, peanut butter, etc.) one item at a time filling in the spaces everywhere. We also stayed with relatives (even distant relatives) whenever possible. My mom had planned and saved all year, so each of us kids got a set amount of “souvenir money” and we knew where we would be each day (for staying with relatives). Another frugal thing, When we did have to stay in a motel, instead of getting 2 rooms for the 6 of us, we just got 2 double beds. We 4 kids took turns sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags and in the 2nd bed. We took 1 weeks worth of clothes (wearing most things more than once) and used our hosts’ laundry facilities, too – Nancy A.  My husband and I took a cruise. About 12 months before the cruise date we contacted a travel agent and put $200 down on the lower deck accommodations( most economical). Then each month we sent in money towards the cruise to the travel agent (payable to the cruise line, I think). Thirty days before the cruise date our final payment was due. This was the best way for us at the time. We had 6 nights and 7 days to Mexico from Galveston, TX. We drove to the pier and paid for the week of parking our car (required by the parking lot). There were people who flew in as well as drove in from other states. The only extra expenses we had was for extras we wanted (but not necessarily needed) and tips – Ruth A.  Tips for a frugal vacation: 1. Take your own coffee. We rarely enjoy the coffee provided when we travel and its always expensive. 2. Thermos. When sightseeing, take a thermos of hot water, milk, coffee, tea etc. or cold drinks and have small picnic breaks instead of buying cups of drink. 3. Don’t buy souvenirs, they are either useless or extremely expensive. Instead, buy locally produced foods – honey, jams. My daughter brought back locally grown tea and coffee beans from Queensland and we are still enjoying a cuppa every now and again. 4. Even if we’re staying in a motel, we take our own breakfast foods along. This saves between $10-30 per person per day. 5. If we don’t have cooking facilities we eat out for lunch then make sandwiches for our evening meal, either in our room or in a local park – Iva A.  I’d like to include a few tips that we use while vacationing: 1. Check the prices of efficiencies For a bit more you’ll save in the long run when you make your own breakfasts and lunches. But figure out the costs first. Some efficiencies are so pricey, it may be cheaper to get a room and opt for brunches and early bird specials. 2. Almost every resort area has a main strip It’s cheaper to book a room that’s not on it. Cheaper yet, is to stay a few short miles away. Five miles away doesn’t add that much to the gas in the car, and you can save ususally 20 to 40 dollars a night. 3. Chef specials and early bird dinners are cheaper in restaurants. It also helps to ask locals for directions to inexpensive, yet yummy restaurants. They always know. 4. Take one day to do something fun and really cheap. Pack a lunch and take the kids to the local park for a day. They can play on the swings, maybe swim in the park pool, and have a romping good time. If you pack a frisbee, kite, or ball and bat, all the more fun. 5. If there’s a KMart, WalMart, or Target in the area, check them out for souveniers. If they’re in resort areas, they’ll usually carry souvenier t-shirts, keychains, etc… They’re much cheaper than gift shop prices. Have a safe and fun time. – Maria A.  We have been married for many, many years and have taken a vacation EVERY year. The first year, we went and spent all our money, and came home broke, no paycheck for two weeks, and not much to eat in the house. And….no one we could get any money from. Right then and there, we devised a plan: Every paycheck we put something in the bank…much like a Christmas Club, but we called it a Vacation Club. We have been all over the states and all over the world. It has worked for us. You must plan ahead. Some paychecks it was hard to put the money away, but when vacation time came around, it was worth it. Enjoy you newsletter – Jim A.  You don’t have to travel thousands of miles to have a good vacation. Order tourist information from your home state and see what there is to see close to home. I bet you will be surprised at all the things you can see and do within a few hours of home. Every state has their own great historical sites to visit or zoos or playlands. Be a tourist in your own hometown–you’ll be amazed! – Ruth Ann A.  When we used to travel with ds and dd when they were smaller, we tried to be frugal by taking along their favorite breakfast food and plastic bowls and utensils. We would buy a pint or two of milk–just what we needed for the cereal. They thought it was so “neat” to eat and get to throw the bowls away! For dinner (lunch) we had frozen ice in milk jugs (which would last a day or two) to put in the big cooler. I’d would buy lunch meat, cheese and fruit and put them in resealable plastic bags in the cooler to make sandwiches. As long as I kept it good and cold, the meat would be fine. These was in the days before baby carrots so I would have a bag or two of carrot sticks and celery sticks too. Peanut butter and crackers were another staple. A small container of margarine and salad dressing was enough. When we ran out, we would just stop and buy enough to last a day or two, making sure everything was fresh. Usually we would eat supper out so we would have one good hot meal a day – Ruth Ann A.  When making hotel reservations always make sure there is a microwave and refrigerator in the room so you can easily each breakfast and dinner in room and eat out only at lunchtime. Also, bring snacks from home for the car ride and stop into any McDonald’s with your cooler and they will fill it up with ice for free! Remember you don’t spend much time in your hotel room so don’t spend a fortune on the most expensive rooms. Have fun! SH A.  My company I work for has a flex spending account for medical bills. They take a little out of your check every payday. What the insurance does not pay you can turn into the company and they will reimburse you from your account (the money has been pretaxed already). A lot of people need reimbursed immediately, but I go ahead and pay my medical bills as they come in. Usually by summer we’ve already had around $500 in medical expenses or more. So, I turn them all in at once and get a big lump sum of the $500 to take on vacation. I add this to my husband’s bonus, our income tax return, or any we’ve managed to save up for our summer vacation. – JSmith