How To Afford A Vacation When You’re Nearly Broke
My partner and I are sort of pinching pennies right now. Okay, we have been doing that since we met several years ago. We don’t struggle to cover our basic needs (rent, food, gas, health insurance, car insurance etc.) but once we’ve done that, we only put aside a little bit of money each month. And we want to put aside that money for emergencies, retirement, or many of the other unavoidable events in life. So, that being said, we also like to treat ourselves to at least two fun vacations a year. You’re probably wondering how we manage to afford that and still meet our financial goals of putting aside money on our modest incomes. Well, we’ve just learned to be sneaky, sharp, crafty, thrifty…you get the idea. Nobody should feel like a little escape and a lot of fun is beyond reach just because they’re on a serious budget. Here is how to afford a vacation, even if you’re almost broke.
Stay close to home
First, get creative about your vacation destinations. You don’t need to go to a real destination to have fun. What do you need? A place to stay that isn’t your home. A pool. Some pretty nature. A different type of surroundings. Those are really all the things you need to feel that you escaped from real life for a while. I bet there are plenty of places within driving distance of where you live where you can get those things. So stop thinking the Bahamas or Paris and start thinking about little gems outside the city.
Always check Groupon, Living social etc.
These sites have serious deals on quality accommodations and entertainment. Remember that even the best hotels and shows sometimes fail to fill rooms and seats, and they give the leftovers to Groupon or Living Social at half the price…or even a quarter of the price.
Check your Credit Card rewards programs
Your Credit Card probably has some rewards you probably haven’t explored. First, use your points. Second, look up which vendors your credit card has deals with—your points will go further with these. And, find vendors through which you get twice or three times the points when you shop there. That means cash back for you.
Don’t be shy about staying with acquaintances
Don’t be shy about asking the world of Facebook, “I’m visiting this city on these dates: does anyone know anyone there who’d be willing to host me? Even for a small fee?” That way, you can get cheap or free accommodations and a tour guide. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to host a friend of a friend—that means you can host them back, one day.
Pack/make all your own food and drinks
Pack a blender, a cooler, and all of your own food and drinks. You can save so much money by making your own food and drinks at the hotel.
Share an AirBnb with other couples
You can usually find a pretty awesome place if you split it with a few other couples. A luxurious three or four-bedroom house on AirBnb with a pool becomes rather affordable when eight people are splitting the cost.
Search for the cheapest travel dates
If your schedule is flexible, then you can look for cheap travel dates. Most travel sites allow you to search specifically by the cheapest dates.
Follow airlines on social media
Airlines often run short specials, during which time you can buy certain one-way or round-trip tickets for insanely low prices. Again, if your schedule is flexible, just take them up on these deals and go! Even if it’s not where you had planned on going.
Embrace the hostel
Hostels aren’t grimy, cockroach-infested, bloody sheet covered places you may think they are. There are some excellent hostels out there, as well as websites that thoroughly review and vet hostels.
Take the long layover and pack food
If you don’t mind a long layover (or several layovers, at that) you can probably save a lot of money on flights. The trick is to pack food so you don’t get caught buying several $20 sandwiches at the airport during your layovers.
Sell unused gift cards
You probably have a few unused gift cards in your wallet. Those are money, baby! A lot of major chain grocery stores now actually have machines that let you trade in your gift cards for cash. So sell that movie theater card for $40 towards a trip.
We associate places like Vail and Lake Tahoe with winter, but these places are equally as gorgeous in the summer, and see price plummets in accommodations and airfare.
Stay outside the busy area
If you’re willing to take the bus into the city or take a short walk, you can save a lot by staying just a few blocks away from Bourbon street in New Orleans or the strip in Las Vegas.
Do house swaps
Don’t forget about an old-fashioned house swap! There are people all over the world who want to visit your city, and would be happy to let you stay in their home if they can stay in yours. For free.
Look for free perks
Look for hotels that offer perks like free cocktail vouchers, breakfast, happy hour, or shuttles into the city. These can really add up.