A summer vacation should be about family, fun, time together, great experiences, and a break. You should spend the least amount of money to achieve that result. Summer vacations can be expensive, but some planning, anticipation, and a few vacation “hacks” can make all the difference.
Summer Vacation Savings Tip #1 - Staycation? Staycations can be a great idea to act as a tourist in your hometown or allow you to drive a short distance. If you look at all the opportunities in a 2 hour or less drive from your house you can find some amazing opportunities. When I lived in Washington, DC, my wife and I spent a long weekend on a staycation doing the DC tourist sites and then a day in rural Virginia hiking. Total spent for the Staycation, less than $200 over 4 days, and it remains one of our fondest memories.
Summer Vacation Savings Tip #2 - Can You Drive? Flying for individuals or a family with the plane fare, baggage fees, and then a rental car on the other end starts to have a very high price tag and that is even before the vacation starts. Driving, especially for a family, starts to become more and more attractive. During your drive, break up your drive with visits to playgrounds, swimming holes, a frontier fort, and other local attractions that make the drive part of the adventure instead of an endurance event. When you drive, ensure that you take snacks, games, perform the car maintenance, and make sure that everyone stays buckled up.
Summer Vacation Savings Tip #3 - Get a Kitchen & Bring the Essentials. The residence style hotels favored by business people are a great choice over a weekend when majorities of those properties are not at capacity. The great benefit is these hotels usually have breakfast, a full kitchen, and a pool. The only downside is they are usually located in an office park instead of high traffic tourist areas. A great way to save money while staying at residence-style hotels is to bring your breakfast and dinner food to cook in the hotels – saves time and money.
Summer Vacation Savings Tip #4 - A Detailed, Daily Schedule. A vacation schedule is not a “fun-killer” but it is a budget tool. A great way to have a family vacation is to have high activity days like a theme park, followed by a more relaxed day at the beach or visiting museums. This allows everyone to stay rested during the vacation and not have you over-pay for attractions that you may be too busy to fully enjoy. Two great days at a theme park is better than four back-to-back days in the August heat. Moreover, it is less money.
Summer Vacation Savings Tip #5 - Use Your Discounts. There are usually discounts available at the closest military base activity office for both Active, Reserve, and Veterans. Additionally, hotels, restaurants, and theme parks often times have their own discounts for both military of other professions, such as educators. Discover all the discounts you can before you go.
Summer vacations are great times for families. Focus on the great times and reduce your fear of spending “too much” by following these five tips to save. Using Staycations, driving to your destination, using residence style hotels, having a daily schedule, and maximizing your discounts are the ways to ensure a great vacation is not a great cost. Have a great summer!
Chad Storlie is the author of two books: Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and Battlefield to Business Success. Both books teach how to translate and apply military skills to business. An adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University and Bellevue University in Omaha, NE. Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces officer with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics. He has been published in The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and over 40 other publications. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.
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