With the holiday weekend upon us and a whole summer ahead of us, many look forward to vacation getaways. Vacations are a great opportunity to recharge our batteries, connect with loved ones, and enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Research even suggests that they improve our job performance by allowing us to fully de-stress. But be careful; one surefire way to miss out on all these benefits is by spending too much money. And with vacation expenses like travel, hotels, and dining being taxed at a higher rate than regular items, your vacation bill has even more potential to skyrocket. Follow these tips to keep your vacation budget in check:
- Pick a destination within driving distance. Though far-flung vacation locations sound exotic, the jury’s still out as to whether they’re more enjoyable. They are certainly more expensive, especially given that airfare is taxed at an eye watering 44 percent average. To save on your vacation, pick a destination that’s within driving distance. You’ll save a lot compared to what you would have spent on airfare. Considering all the hassle that’s involved with flying these days, you won’t lose much time either. Try to pick a destination that you can reach on one tank of gas. You’ll find dozens of great, economical locations within that limit.
- Find cheap lodging by visiting several travel websites. Make sure you set aside an hour or two to research hotel deals on various online travel websites. Some of the most popular sites at the moment are Expedia, Kayak, and Priceline. You’ll be surprised at the price differentials and deals that you can get with a little bit of hunting.
- Travel with friends or family. To cut down on travel and/or hotel costs, consider sharing your vacation with family or friends. Splitting the cost of a hotel means that you can likely afford a suite or even a house with a kitchen and still enjoy big savings. Simply being able to split the average 39 percent tax rate which hotels are subject to will save you a bundle.
- Eat Cheap. Consider spending a little more on your hotel in order to get a room with a kitchenette or at least a mini-fridge that you can stock full of breakfast and lunch fixings. You will make up the extra money with what you save on the markup and average 31 percent tax rate that comes with dining out. For meals that you do eat out, try to avoid fancy sit-down dinners and instead go to delis or “fast-casual” restaurants where the food is usually delicious and reasonably priced.
- Avoid Buying Souvenirs. Avoid the temptation to buy commemorative shirts, figurines, mugs, etc. that showcase your destination. They are usually kitschy, overpriced, and of poor quality. In your relaxed state of mind, you might forget that they will simply clutter up your home when your vacation ends. Instead, save money by taking some great photos to remember the trip by.