Multiple sources report that August is the second most popular month for vacations. This means that, right now, many people are anxiously awaiting their final, and maybe only vacation of the summer. If you are among them, your trip has most likely already been planned and at least partly paid for. But there’s more to vacation budgeting than the cost of your travel and stay! Maximizing your hard-earned spending money will help you to enjoy your time to the fullest, giving you peace of mind while you’re away and allowing you to breathe a sigh of relief when you return home. Whether you’re headed overseas, across the country, or down to the Jersey shore, here are a few ways you can stretch your dollar.
Diversify your dining experiences. There are many ways to enjoy food while on vacation, and while dining out is one of them, going to restaurants for all of your meals adds up! If you have a kitchen in your hotel or rental home, do some light grocery shopping and prepare some simple meals there so you spend less on restaurant expenses. No kitchen? No problem. Check to see if your hotel offers a free continental breakfast. Either way, the little bit you save by eating in or taking advantage of complimentary meals each day will add up throughout your stay. You can also pick up sandwiches, salads, or other easy take-out fare to bring back, and if the weather is nice (and we hope it is), have yourself a picnic!
If you’re vacationing during the week, check sites like Restaurant.com for discount certificates — you could end up purchasing a $50 gift certificate for $25! You can also purchase coupon books for your destination on Entertainment.com, and find “Kids Eat Free” programs at restaurants and hotels through Coupondivas.com. Keep an eye out for early bird and happy hour specials, too!
A major — and fun — part of traveling is sampling the local fare. Ask people in the area for affordable, “go-to” recommendations. In addition to helping you spend wisely, this will also provide you with an authentic taste of the area you might not have gotten otherwise.
Let the kids help. If you have children, turn the trip into a subtle teaching moment by giving them a daily budget. Start by figuring out ahead of time a reasonable amount of money you’d like your child to spend per day. Depending on your comfort level and the child’s age and responsibility skills, you can either dole out a daily lump sum, or hang onto it and let them make “withdrawals.” Then, explain that they can pocket any leftover funds. Watching them make financial decisions may be a new skill for you to watch and enjoy as a parent! It’s important to stick to the budget though—kids should be aware that once their money is gone, it’s gone. Of course, use your own parental discretion to decide at what age and to what extent you feel this is appropriate.
Find out what’s free. Almost every destination has free entertainment; you just have to look for it. Do a little research to find out if there are free or discounted concerts, festivals, museums, gardens, and other no- or low-cost entertainment. Some establishments, like museums, offer free admission on certain days. Even the Louvre in Paris — probably the most famous of them all — is free on the first Sunday of each month! There are also activities and destinations that are always free, like parks and historical sites. Plan accordingly!
Bundle, bundle, bundle. Did we mention…bundle? If you plan to visit multiple attractions in a city, bundling is one way to reduce the collective costs. One example of this is CityPASS, which offers up to half off the regular admission of major attractions in 12 North American destinations. When you purchase a CityPASS ticket booklet, you receive discounted admission to aquariums, zoos, and some of the city’s top attractions at a rate of up to half of what you’d spend on those same admissions separately. If that sounds overwhelming from a planning standpoint, don’t worry — CityPASS limits the number of attractions on each city’s pass to five or six of the most popular sights, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy and take it all in before heading to the next spot.
Stay connected. If you can go cell phone-free on vacation, good for you! In reality, most people will rely on their mobile devices for everything from texting and phone calls to internet searches, e-mail and apps. When using data on your smartphone, be sure to connect to a password-protected Wi-Fi network whenever possible to avoid sky-high data charges while keeping your personal information safe.
Finally, don’t lose sight of the reason you went on vacation in the first place. If you booked a trip with plans to spend big on wining, dining and sightseeing, by all means, enjoy! But if your goal is to relax and spend time with your loved ones, make that a priority, and use these tips to enhance your time together!
There are lots of ways to save and grow your money! NVE Bank offers products and services to meet a variety of saving needs and goals. For example, our Universal Club account features a structured savings plan created to help you save for special occasions like vacations. Find out more at the NVE Bank website, visit one of our convenient neighborhood branches in Bergen County, or call 1-866-NVE BANK (683-2265).