In the midst of a crazy week in our economy, today’s podcast takes a step back from the doom and gloom and focuses on something we could all probably use right now…a getaway. Being a tightwad, it may come as a surprise that I am completely okay with spending money on travel. That being said, I’d like to share some great tips for planning a five-star vacation on a two-star budget so you can really stretch your dollars to their fullest potential.
The first step in planning a trip is figuring out the destination. One of my favorite resources for browsing vacation sites is TripAdvisor. I have been using it for years and have never once been led astray by their reviews. One of best things about this site is that real travelers can upload their personal photos and videos from their trip. This is great for when a hotel website doesn’t have many photos or even if their photos may be a little outdated. In addition to pictures and video, this site has also been a great source for getting tips on how to best plan your trip and fun sightseeing activities in an area.
Next, you should use a site like Kayak to price things out and make sure flight and hotel costs will be reasonable for your destination. Don’t book your trip here. Simply use it for research.
When you are almost ready to start booking, visit Bing’s travel section. They have a great feature called Price Predictor that allows you to use probability in deciding you when you should book your plane tickets. Again, don’t book your trip here; just use it to gather data. If you are not flying and are opting for a road trip, use the Where app on your iPhone or iPad to view nearby gas stations and make sure you get the best prices along the way. Another good tip for road trips is to stock up before you go if you have the extra room. A lot of popular vacation cities escalate prices on trip necessities (sunscreen, bathing suits, etc.), so you will likely get a better deal if you bring those things with you.
When you’re really ready to book, go to Upromise.com. This site is incredible because it allows you to earn FREE money to benefit the college savings for your child/grandchild/whoever when you book through this site. You can also use it for shopping online, groceries, and dining.
Some final tips:
- When you’re shopping, you really can save money by packaging hotels and flights.
- Be aware of and use your rewards on your credit cards. You may receive cash back during certain months for traveling expenses. Your card may also cover rental cars and other miscellaneous travel expenses.
- While you are on vacation, take advantage of Groupon and Scoutmob so you can enjoy local activities and restaurants at a discount.
- Another site that I’ve started using recently is RueLaLa, which offers some great discounts on travel as well as other high-end products.
Vacations are supposed to be fun. Hopefully these tips will help you do some planning on the front end so you can relax and have an awesome, inexpensive trip with your family.
If you have any additional tips you would like to share, please post them below or on our Facebook page!