First and foremost, you do not have to travel to take a vacation. There, now that I have put that disclaimer to paper, let’s address travel vacations. Most of us wish we had more money to spend on travel or the cash to even be able to afford a vacation to the destination of our choice. I know I have thought about what it would be like to sit down and plan a vacation where money was no object.
Unfortunately, very few people are in the position of having unlimited funds and plenty of free, unencumbered time, so we plan our travels according to our budget and availability. I know people who take a vacation “away” every year regardless of whether they have the funds to travel or not. They travel first and pay later which usually results in a vicious cycle of playing catch up on their credit cards. They will always pay more for their vacation because of the interest charged on outstanding balances attached to their credit cards or lines of credit. That cruise deal is not such a great deal when you add in the interest paid (following your trip), to your overall travel costs.
How to reconcile your spending and travel? The best option is to ensure you plan your travel according to your budget. I will cover what to do when you have emergency or special event travel needs in a future blog. I will also address traveling on a dime for those “work your way around the world” adventurers.
For this article, I am covering only general travel and money tips.
Whenever possible try to plan out your travel in advance so you can take advantage of deals, shop prices and save sufficient funds. Remember that advance planning does not preclude last minute deal shopping.
Plan a travel budget and stick to it. Even if you have not saved and have opted to put the entire trip on your credit card, you can still try and keep a check on your spending so the return home is not met with massive debt.
Stand Your Ground
Do not let people talk you into a trip you cannot afford or do not want to take. The concept that people, who do not want to go to a certain travel destination, enjoy it once they are there, is generally wrong. It happens, but not as often as people think. A less than enthusiastic traveler easily transitions into an unhappy or resentful companion. Money spent to be miserable is indeed wasted.
Take Advantage of Deals
Learn to seek out the best deals for your intended travel. I am going to cover flight and cruise deals in future blogs so I will not go into detail here. However, I cannot stress enough, the importance of pursuing deals and negotiating better rates.
Booked a cruise? Just before final payment date there is almost always opportunities to get better deals on cabins that have not been booked. Always check out those last minute air fares and travel deals! I have an e-mail account that I use for travel and signing up for special travel deals. I hate spam mail but when I have a future trip in the plans, I will start to search for deals and use that e-mail account for notifications.
Off Season Travel
You can get better deals in all locations world-wide by traveling off season. You will also find that those must see places are less crowded and offer better prices all around. I am not advocating in favour of visiting a location when the weather is seasonally the worse (such as a location that has a rainy season), but by shifting the timing of your travel a little, you can avoid bad weather and high costs.
Travel Within Your Means
If you cannot afford premium, business or first class flights, then fly economy. The bulk of people on that plane with you are also flying economy. Remember that the travel time to and from your intended destination, is usually a fraction of the time you spend on the trip.
I have had people tell me that they don’t fit into economy seating. If you struggle with the space allotted in an economy seat, but shudder at the high cost of a business class seat, remember, it is almost always cheaper to buy two economy seats than it is to get one business class seat. The two economy seats will give you more room. An aisle and middle seat on an airplane gives you width and you can shift left or right to angle those long legs of yours.
Try to book a seat where you sit by an exit row. You may have to pay a little extra for those choice seats but again, they are still cheaper than a higher priced seat in a different class.
Hotels, Motels, B & B, Airbnb, Camping, Glamping, staying with friends are all accommodation choices. The old adage “I’am on vacation so I should pamper/spoil myself.” was probably the brain child of a marketing expert trying to sell high end vacations. You can enjoy your vacation in clean, safe and budget appropriate accommodation. Be prepared to spend some time searching accommodation choices and reviews. Don’t be one of those people who does a five minute search on the internet and then books the first hotel they see in their destination of choice.
Don’t buy the Store
When you are on a trip, decide what kind of spender you want to be. Do you really need to buy everything you see? Having been purchasers of suitcases full of travel treasures, we now make a budget and stick to it. We opt to get one or two big ticket items as opposed to a large number of souvenirs that just junk up our home. Having said that, my bobble head, paper mâché armadillo is still a favoured travel treasure.
Avoid Impulse Buys
When traveling, that Irish drum might be of interest to you but will you ever learn to play it or use it? If you are a collector of certain items, you already have an idea of what you might look for but to spend money on something you neither need nor use, simply because you impulsively bought it, is a waste.
Beware of Regional Treasures
That Mexican sombrero, cruise ship specialty glass, bamboo and paper umbrella may be great to bring home but local yard sales abound with these items. Once home there are usually two destinations: the wall or the yard/garage sale. Spend your money on something you know you will want to keep past your arrival home.
Gifts for Everyone
You really don’t need to buy gifts for everyone and if you decide to buy little mementoes, stick to what you can afford. Over 25 years ago, a friend was on a trip to Nepal and bought me a little book marker. It probably cost under a dollar. I still have it, use it and treasure it. Travel gifts do not have to be expensive to be appreciated.
When you travel, you will spend money to get to, and at, your destination. Return home with great memories and no regrets.
Stay safe and travel well!