Saving money is paramount these days. So is having fun. The two can indeed go together, as I discovered on my vacation last week.
I’m back, and my pocket is too badly burned. I thought I’d share a few of my tips on how to save on vacation.
1. Pick a place close to home: I’d originally planned to go to Sante Fe, N.M. Flights were not terribly unreasonable, but when my traveling partner — my mother — insisted on cutting costs on our trip, we decided to stay closer to home. We took a two-hour road trip to Chattanooga, TN and did it before gas prices jumped this week.
2. Have flexibility when it comes to accommodations: I’d been to Chattanooga before, but had previously chosen hotels in the downtown area. This time, I picked a bed and breakfast only five minutes outside of downtown. It was $60 less per night than a popular, moderately-priced hotel downtown, but even nicer. The scenery was beautiful in the eight-bedroom home, with our room going for $99. Plus, we had a full breakfast prepared for us each morning.
3. Travel during the week: For most people, vacations stretch throughout the weekend. Unfortunately, that’s when room rates and other activities are more expensive. This time, I went during the week and returned on Friday. Everything was less crowded, and less costly.
4. Look for coupons: As always, I advice consumers to look for coupons and discounts wherever you go. I went to the visitors bureau Web site and found coupons for local eateries and shops.
5. Go to a park: On this trip, we went hiking in a state park. The cost was $5, although it would have been free if we had gone a day earlier. Still, you can’t put a price tag on cascading waterfalls and eye-popping fall foiliage — both of which we enjoyed while walking through the park.
6. Hang with the locals: It’s easier, but a lot less fun, to stick to the hottest tourist destinations when you’re on vacation. Before heading to Chattanooga, we asked friends who’d lived there before where the best places were for coffee, live music and of course, food. We found them all off the beaten path, and stayed away from the over-priced offerings generated for tourists. Our best find: a restaurant that allowed you to bring your own bottle of wine, with no corkage fee.
So, I’m back and ready to hunt for some deals. I am glad I found a few of my own while I was away.
Have you saved on a vacation or staycation? What tips do you have?
Follow me on Twitter @atlbargains