Knowing when to Splurge and when to Save While on Vacation
Vacation is the time to be carefree. Sure, you spend a little more on meals and buy a few fun items to take home with you. But sometimes, people have a tendency to overspend. Here are some tips on how to reduce your costs while still enjoying your vacation.
You booked a deal, now what?
Well, before you book that amazing trip to Australia or Europe that you saw advertised on Expedia or the like make sure you can afford the actual stay. Sure, you may have gotten an amazing deal on the airfare, but don’t forget to tack on every other travel expense and then factor in the exchange rate. Not looking like such a good deal anymore? Well, then it may be best to wait until you’ve saved up enough to adequately enjoy your trip.
Cabs can be great when you want to get somewhere and you don’t have to worry about sharing the driver’s services with other people. However, cab fares are expensive (and you have to factor in tips). Airport shuttles are sometimes free, if you are being dropped off at certain locations. Always ask the hotel you’re staying at to see if they can suggest any tips or low-cost options.
Another option is public transportation, which seems to be the mantra of just about every city that’s going “green” right now. Public transportation is the cheapest and possibly sometimes the fastest (because you can avoid traffic if you’re traveling by subway or El). Public transit, however, may not be the best option if you are traveling with a huge load of luggage. There’s no reason to advertise to everyone around you that you’re from out of town and a walking target.
Shuttle vans, like PrimeTime or Super Shuttle, are the next best thing to public transit. They’re reliable. The only issue is that say, for example, you are traveling with one other person, the shuttle company will make sure to pack that van to full capacity to get the most dollar wise. This costs you in time, because you have to wait for other people to be dropped off or picked up versus a direct pick up and drop off.
Renting a car is a beast of its own, because you have to decide if it’s really worth it. If you’re going to a dense, urban area, San Francisco, for example, don’t get a car unless you also want to hit other cities in the Bay Area. If you are only staying in San Francisco, walk or take public transit.
If you are driving a car in a place like San Francisco or Chicago or New York, you then have to worry about paying for parking (which is never cheap and never guaranteed). And if you choose not to go the valet route, then you have to deal with street parking. In such case you have to consider all kinds of additional car rental insurance should some vandal decide to pick your car to mess around with and you also have to go on the hunt for street parking.
If renting a car is an absolute must for you, check with the hotel to see if they charge for parking, or even offer parking accommodations for their guests.
You’re in a different place. You don’t have to go to work tomorrow. You’re in sensory overload when on vacation, and sometimes that unfolds into overeating and overpaying for meals. Sure, it’s fun to taste the foods that a particular city is known for, but there’s no need to go wild about it.
Maybe try eating at one fancy restaurant for your trip and think budget-friendly with all other meals. Additionally, take advantage of continental breakfasts and travel coupons, which can save you money but doesn’t necessarily mean you’re missing out on good food.
Everyone loves to buy souvenirs for themselves and for family and friends back at home. You just want to make sure not to go overboard. If you find yourself charging up a storm knowing you won’t be paying off those charges in full immediately upon coming back home, think twice about what you are getting.
Do you really need to buy a handful of magnets or T-shirts just because they’re on “sale.” If you are buying souvenirs, maybe stick to buying one item for each person on your list. Doing this ensures that you make spending decisions more wisely, and you usually end up getting things are more thoughtful anyways.
One other note about making purchases while on vacation: People have a tendency to over-buy on items that they can find at any mall or store in their hometown. On vacation, the mentality is to splurge, splurge and splurge some more.
We see a sale sign on a pair of shoes that can be found in any mall, but because we’re on vacation, we think, “Why not?” Before you buy, ask yourself if it’s really necessary and really what you need. Would you have bought it back at home?
A Note on Charging
If you plan on charging up your whole vacation, you may want to re-think whether this is the best time for you to be spending.
Unless you know, and you are being honest with yourself, that you intend to pay in full the charges upon receipt of your next credit statement, charging an entire vacation is not fiscally sound.