I start with a fresh calendar at the beginning of the year. I get a pencil out and start planning where we will go and when. To be honest I sort of have to do this for a couple reasons: 1. I share custody of my kids with my ex which means that I only get them part time and I can not just travel on a whim, but rather have to “approve” weeks with my ex. 2. My kids are getting older which means that they also have personal commitments (like my son playing football and needing to be at camps in the summer or that pesky thing called school). 3. If I don’t plan, I don’t go or don’t have the money to go when I want to. While time is certainly one of the bigger issues – financial is usually of the bigger pieces for me. I recently learned of a few tips to help with the saving piece. I will try a couple this year.
1. Save Cash In An Envelope. Just like you might put a poster of your destination on your fridge, place an envelope near that photo – and put $20 cash each week into the envelope so you will have “spending cash” on your trip. (I also suggest my kids do the same – so they can buy their own souvenirs).
2. Month In = More Money For Week Out. Plan to encourage your family to have a month completely in the house. No, I don’t mean being a shut-in. I mean eat EVERY meal in (or brown bag it), save up a whole season of a TV show instead of seeking external entertainment (or plan on doing family research on your chosen destination – so the kids can get excited about what they might see there). The money you save on going out for one month may help pay for the money you will need to eat out EVERY meal.
3. Plan Ahead. One thing someone offered as a suggestion to me several years back, is to use a re-loadable VISA card. That way the money is out of your bank account – but accessible to you when you go on your trip. If you are dividing up the cost (saving into a vacation fund monthly) at the beginning of the month put your vacation funds into the pre-paid Visa. The old adage holds true – big things become achievable when you don’t get overwhelmed with the big picture but rather, concentrate on the little things (save small amounts of money each month is more do-able than a giant chunk at one time).
4. Find bloggers, Convention and Visitors Bureaus or other local people in the “know” to see if there might be FREE events in the area when you will be there. There are a multitude of free concerts, festivals, community celebrations and events that give flavor to any destination. (I also blog at MileHighMamas.com – and write about DEALS – so I have some items there for Denver and surrounding community events).
5.USE Coupons and Promo Codes. Several travel related companies post coupons or promotional codes online. They range from a discounted rate to stay a certain number of nights (at a hotel) to get one free.Companies post these to get your business (it works even better if you share these codes on your social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).
6. ASK for deals. The least they can say is No. But quite often if you ask for a deal that seems reasonable – they will give it to you. I recently told a friend to call the hotel she wished to stay at and ask them if they would give her a discount (knowing that late October/Early November is not a high demand time for Colorado Mountain towns – as hiking and summer activities are done because it gets cold already but not cold enough for the ski areas to already be open). They offered her the discount she wanted AND gave her an upgrade into a condo style room – so she could cook in (saving more money)!
7. Couch Surf. Yes, that same thing that you may have done in college (or in your younger years). Stay with friends. The cost of a super vacation can be cut if you stay just a few days with friends or family. It does not have to be the WHOLE trip (my dad – and Ben Franklin – used to say, “Guests and fish stink after three days.”).
Hopefully these tips will help you with the perfect vacation this year.