I approach vacation planning the same way I planned my wedding: I squeeze pennies in certain areas so I can splurge on the things I really want. Example? I do not mind eating cheap meals earlier in the day so I can have dinner at a nice restaurant. The best way to save money on vacation is to plan ahead. Here are some tips to ease the stress on your pocketbook:
1) When the snowbirds leave, the steep discounts arrive
Beginning in June, you can find hotel rooms at half and sometimes 75 percent off the regular price in Mountain Ski Resort cities such as Big Bear and the desert cities including Palm Springs. Both cities are in California and both are close to major attractions. A resort we stayed at in Palm Springs had swimming pools for every age group, a splash park, an indoor kids’ activity center, a golf course, two restaurants, a movie theater, and a shuttle to get you around. During peak season, the villa we usually book goes for $500 per night. This summer, the same villa can be booked for $169 per night! In addition, the villa includes a spacious kitchen which helps to save on eating out. In Big Bear, you can book a resort for under $80 a night and enjoy the amenities of nearby Lake Arrowhead.
2) Vacationing within driving distance saves the airfare
Airfare and car rental fees would kill my vacation budget. That’s why we drive to most places. Even at these high gas prices, it still saves money to drive.
3) Buy restaurant gift cards at your local warehouse stores
Chances are you’ll be eating at your favorite chain restaurant on vacation. Costco sells popular pizza and BBQ restaurant gift cards by the bundle at 20% off. Sam’s Club sells a $100 gift card to a popular Brazilian steakhouse for $79.98.
4) Sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation
The most common vacation mistake (the most expensive too) is scheduling everything back-to-back. We once visited three different amusement parks in three days. By day three, no one was enjoying themselves. You know the pool at your hotel? Use it! Schedule a low-key pool or beach day in between the hectic fun days. It gives everyone a chance to sleep in and rest up for the next big adventure. Also, a rest day will be easier on your wallet. And your family will come back from vacation in a way you rarely see them — refreshed!