With the cooler weather moving in, do you find yourself thinking back longingly to your summer vacation? If so, it could be time to consider another trip. Maybe it’s traveling to see loved ones during the holidays. Or it might be a winter vacay just for fun. Whatever it is, it’s a chance to get away.
It’s no secret that this time of year can be tough on your wallet, though. Holiday parties and gift giving can get expensive. If you want to jet off for a little downtime, you probably need to keep a budget in mind. Keep reading for six tips on how to successfully travel in winter without taxing your bank account.
1. Lean on Your Debit Card
There’s a lot of advice floating around about how to handle money while traveling. Some people choose to save up and only fork over cash. That way, they don’t spend over a certain amount, and they monitor their expenditures. Others choose to lay down plastic and pay everything off later.
There’s a third tactic you can add to the mix. Consider using a fee-free debit card during your travels. Some of these cards round your purchases up to the next dollar, funneling the extra into your savings. Plus, many of these cards offer a wide selection of easy-to-find ATMs. That erases any worry about out-of-network ATM fees and leaves more money in your pocket.
2. Skip the Hotel
Before you break out in a cold sweat, this tip isn’t suggesting you crash on an extended family member’s couch. It’s simply recommending that you look for a hotel alternative. Think about a vacation rental house or an Airbnb. Choosing these accommodations can be a money saver wherever you’re going. Just be sure you read any fine print about service fees.
Think about it. Traveling with your family sometimes means getting two hotel rooms so everyone has a bed. For a long trip, that can cost more than a vacation house or condo. Hotels can also feel cramped. That’s not the relaxing feeling you’d like on your time off.
There’s another up side to a vacation rental: You’ll have access to a kitchen. Meals can be a huge added expense when you’re away from home. With pots and pans at your fingertips, you can eat in for some meals, cutting down on dining costs.
3. Get Behind the Wheel
When the temperature drops, it’s tempting to think about hopping a flight to a tropical location. The warm sun on your face and the sand between your toes really can feel like paradise. This time of year, though, it can be a budget breaker. Airline tickets spike during the holidays. It’s also peak season for the warmer vacation destinations once you get there.
Put yourself in the driver’s seat — literally — to reduce the cost. Think about some travel options that are within driving distance. Sure, gas is expensive right now. Still, a few tanks cost far less than buying plane tickets for your entire family. Depending on the airline, you’ll also avoid baggage fees — roughly $30 a pop adds up quickly.
4. Be Flexible
Maybe your travel plans include seeing family across the country during the holidays. If so, you’re probably focused on a fewer number of days. It could mean you’ll be forced to fly to make it in time. That can make getting from point A to point B a bit more difficult — and pricey.
Don’t worry. You can still save some money if you’re willing to bend and flex on how you get there. Look at your calendar. Can you possibly travel a day earlier or later? For example, early-morning flights on Thanksgiving Day are much cheaper than flights the day before. The plane is likely to be less crowded, too.
It can likewise be a good idea to consider different airports. Choosing a smaller airport or one located a little farther away could lower the price tag. Ask a generous family member to pick you up. Or look into renting a compact car for a few days.
5. Bundle Up
Bundling your phone, internet, and TV services can save you money, right? Looking for package vacation deals can do the same thing. Sure, you might need to do a little digging to find the best offers. When you snag a good flight-accommodation combo, though, it can be a real money saver.
In some cases, these deals include discounted airfare or a free night’s stay. Free tickets to area attractions and restaurant coupons are also common. If it’s a family trip, maximize your savings with a kids-stay-free deal. Just be sure to read the details. You may be required to stay for a specific number of nights.
6. Go Cruising
Think boarding a boat for a cruise is only for the luxury set? Think again! Setting sail can be a surprisingly affordable way to vacation. That’s particularly true during the winter. Many cruise lines drop prices for some significant last-minute deals. If a sea-going vacation is on your bucket list, the cooler months could be the time for it.
Cruise packages can include other savings as well. A second passenger or kids could sail free. You could score a reduced-price drink package. It could also cost less to book excursions or activities for when you’re in port.
From holidays get-togethers to winter getaways, the next few months will offer many opportunities for travel. Fortunately, heading out of town doesn’t have to break the bank. There are lots of ways to take a vacation while holding on to more of your hard-earned cash. Keep these tips in mind to enjoy your time away without added financial stress.