For most of us, the excitement of planning a vacation can get us happily through the rest of the year.
You plan it out, pull together maps, read books and blogs from respected world travelers, and salivate over the amazing food and spectacular cocktails that will be at your fingertips in that tropical paradise or historic villa.
You want to have an amazing vacation you and your family will remember for a lifetime, but you don’t want the bills to follow you around just as long.
How can you plan and execute a dream vacation without destroying the piggy bank?
Here are a few tips for avoiding overspending on your vacation
Start with a budget — Okay, that doesn’t sound like much fun at all.
But if you have a monthly budget to track expenses at home, why would you not have one for your week or two-week adventure?
Sometimes it might even be easier to start with this budget, and then pick the destination from there.
Before you get your heart set on Thailand, really sit down and take a look at the numbers.
You might find Miami a better choice.
It’s not as exotic, but if you’re on vacation stressing about every dime you spend, you’ll miss out on the rest and relaxation of mind, body, and soul that makes a vacation so important.
What’s most important to you? Your husband wants to run with the bulls in Spain.
Your kids want to conquer the biggest rollercoaster in the world.
But all you want is a trashy novel, an empty beach, and a pina colada.
How can all this be possible? Well, it can’t.
So sit down as a family and get really clear about what vacation elements are most important to you. You may not all be able to get everything you want but finding a destination that holds the most important elements for each of you while being willing to compromise on costly extras that others aren’t interested in will save you a boatload of heartbreak and cash.
Insure a successful vacation — Travel insurance is that thing most of us turn down when it’s offered on travel booking sites.
But if this is your biggest vacation of the year, you might want to give it another thought.
You can insure your plane tickets, your luggage, even set up medical insurance while on the road.
And the more people you have going, the greater the chance that something can go wrong.
You’ll spend a little bit here, but save a lot in the long run if one of those unforeseen disasters rears its ugly head.
Book early, but be flexible — For most of your travel plans, it pays to book far in advance.
Shuttle service from the airport to your destination, lodging (especially if you are headed somewhere during their busy season), day trips, etc.
But every once in a while, deals come about at the last minute that could save you a bundle.
If the specific time or date doesn’t matter as much, hopping a last-minute flight could save you a bundle.
Keep an eye out for Groupons or deals that often show up in the last couple of weeks before your trip.
And hunt for last-minute upgrades.
As hotels scramble to fill their ledger, they often make tantalizing deals available.
There are plenty of strategies for avoiding a vacationer’s spending binge.
For instance, research the best credit card for travel rewards.
If you play your cards right, you could pay for hotels, rental cars or air travel with points in the right program.
And ask other travelers for advice, especially if you’re headed to a region that’s new to you.
Insiders and locals will always have a great time and cost-saving tips that could make a huge difference for your vacation bottom line.