I don’t know about you, but when it gets time for vacation planning, I go into budget overdrive. I may not be able to find money to do anything else throughout the year, but when it’s time to get away, I can save like nobody’s business. Now, I work my tail off to make it happen, but I always make it happen, nonetheless. Who doesn’t love a vacation???
I, like many people, used to finance my vacations, i.e. put them on a credit card. Then, I would have to spend the next year paying that off so that I could do it again. It took a while, but I finally realized how backwards that was. How much more could I do with just the money I was paying in interest? Hello….that could mean an extra day at the beach! What a no-brainer that is!
We live on a very tight budget. Both my husband and I work outside the home, but it takes most of what we make to raise 4 kids and 2 dogs. We don’t have extra money laying around to take off on vacation whenever we feel like it, so our vacations take some preparation which I usually start doing about 8 months or so ahead of time. For example, we are already planning our beach trip for next summer, almost a year in advance.
Tip #1- Book Well in Advance or Last Minute
By starting early, you can often find deals at various resorts, condos, or hotels that often get booked quickly because the rates are so good. It also gives you plenty of extra time to look around to find the best deal. If you are more of a last minute person, you can often find exceptional deals from resorts that have empty rooms that they want to get filled quickly. If you like to cruise, many cruise lines offer last minute deals at pennies on the dollar!
Tip #2- Stay at the Same Place
Many places will offer discounts for returning customers. The home that we rented last year on VRBO.com offered us a 10% discount if we stay again next year. It was an awesome little place in Santa Rosa Beach, FL. I shopped around and found a great house just a short walk from the beach that was way cheaper than it’s competitors, so this is a great deal.
Tip #3 Have a Garage/Yard Sale
You would be surprised at how much money you already have laying around your house. We usually are able to raise a couple hundred dollars by selling things we already have. Plus, it’s less clutter. Win win.
Tip #4 Sacrifice
Plan to take your lunch a few days a week and rat-hole what you would be spending. Skip out on that expensive coffee in the morning, and opt to make it at home instead. If you are a big shopper, take the money that you would otherwise be spending on clothes or whatever and put it toward your vacation.
Tip #5- Pick up a Side Hustle
As a nurse, it is easy for me to pick up a side job in my profession because most places can always use an extra hand. I don’t do it a lot because my time with my family is precious to me, but I often pick up side work a day or so a month and stash away that cash. Other great options are waitressing (you can make a ton of money in good areas), freelance writing, housekeeping/cleaning services, babysitting, etc. This list could go on and on.
Tip #6- Cash in on Your Talents
What are you good at? What makes your heart happy? Can you craft? Can you bake? Do you have a small vinyl machine that you could turn into a side hustle? You have to be creative with this one, but there are a lot of people out there who will pay for your talent. You can find entire websites just for these handmade items. Think Etsy.
Tip #7- Sell Things Online
You can make a small fortune selling on Ebay. Most of the time people sell things they already have. Kids’ clothes do great, especially if you put them in a bundle according to sizes. If Ebay is something you aren’t real comfortable with, there are tons of local groups on Facebook that do large meets weekly or monthly where you list your items and all meet at the same time in a central location. We all know that meeting one-on-one can be dangerous unfortunately. You have to use good judgment here.
Tip #8- Stay Somewhere That Has a Kitchen
I have 4 kids, ya’ll. Going out to eat on vacation is not usually something that is very enjoyable anyway, especially if we have to wait any amount of time for a table or our food. We save A TON of money by always getting a place with a kitchen so that we can store and prepare our own food for most of our trip. Now, we like to eat good tasty food just like everybody else, so we do eat out a few times while we are there, but it’s so much easier and budget-friendly to make a quick breakfast, sandwiches at lunchtime, and a small dinner right where we are staying. I’m sure this will change as our kids get older because I LOVE to try out new restaurants on vacation. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Hopefully, our budget won’t be as tight by then.
JUST GO ALREADY!
There are many different ways to save money when you really want to do it. It’s all about your priorities and what’s important at the time. We do sacrifice in our family to take a good vacation almost every year, but that’s something that is SUPER important to my husband, myself, and my kids. The time that we get to spend together uninterrupted by life is priceless to us, so we are willing to get outside the box to make it happen. I really doubt that one day I will look back and wish we had taken fewer vacations.
Enjoy your kids! Enjoy your family! Enjoy YOURSELF!