With economic uncertainty still affecting most businesses and families we are all having to still cut corners in our monthly budgets and bring down our outgoings throughout the year. More and more of us are being asked to take a salary reduction and worse still, people are being laid off from their jobs. Simultaneously people are also seeing prices shoot up in the store and at the petrol pump. As such it is necessary to find ways to make massive reductions in our spending and changes to our lifestyle while things are tough. And one obvious area ripe for cutting back is where, and how, we go on vacation. This is often easier said than done however. For most of us our holiday is the one chance in the year when we get to spoil ourselves, to cut loose and not worry about the problems of the rest of the year – trying to holiday on a strict budget can be counter intuitive. Nevertheless this article will try to offer some pointers on how to do exactly that by suggesting some ideas on how to have a tip top holiday without breaking the bank.
Firstly, try to visit somewhere close to home. While money is tight, don’t go for the exotic (and expensive) island adventure. Instead, think of some places in your own country that you have always wanted to see and book a holiday there. Try and book the least expensive travel option too – save your money for the holiday itself.
When it comes to accommodation the best way to save money is to book something that’s a little further away from the popular tourist areas that you would normally go for. Rather than booking hotels slap bang on the beach or in the centre of the historic district you should look at hotels ten minutes away. Not only will you see a massive reduction in the amount you have to spend, you’ll also have the extra benefit of discovering places off the beaten track (like restaurants, parks, statues and galleries) that you might not have seen before. Thus if you were to go to Paris but stay further out you would (hopefully) find that by walking back to your hotel you might see old cemeteries, amazing buskers, beautiful courtyards, charming cafes and bookshops and all kinds of other wonders. If you take a camera chances are that the best photos of your holiday would be from the things you didn’t plan on, rather than the monuments and ‘must-see’ sights.
Similarly, if you really want to save money, think about booking into hostels rather than hotels. They’re more fun, more sociable and a whole lot cheaper than regular hotels. Add in the fact that they have kitchens so that you can cook your own meals and you’ll find they are an excellent way to holiday on a budget.
When it comes to going out and seeing things on holiday, aim for stuff that doesn’t cost money. Instead of theme parks head to state parks and national parks – you’ll be able to spend days on end in them and you’ll see more incredible stuff than you could have seen in a man-made theme park. Get yourself a guidebook and take a couple of tours if you want to splash out, but if you wanted you could spend days soaking in these incredible places and not spend a penny. Before you go simply find a guide to all the national parks and gardens in the area you are visiting and then plan your trip accordingly.
The same thing applies to other free stuff in the city you will be visiting. As well as the museums and art galleries you can use your imagination and visit famous skyscrapers, historic buildings, and movie locations that are no doubt dotted around the place. With a bit of free research on the internet it is possible to plan an entire holiday without paying for any attractions.
Just remember, when it comes to holidays, expensive doesn’t necessarily equate to fun!
Esther is a financial journalist and business blogger based in Chicago. She writes about all areas of personal finance affecting the consumer from tax relief to credit and store cards to where to find a good purchase order financing company.