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The Spirit of the River Wards: How to Plan an Affordable Summer Vacation

This article appeared in The Spirit of the Riverwards newspaper and online on July 9, 2014.

By Karl Bernhard

Summertime is prime time for vacation. If you’re looking to get away, whether that be down the Jersey Shore, the Poconos or a tropical island, make sure to consider your budget before you make any travel arrangements. It’s just as important to give yourself a break from time-to-time and get some rest and relaxation as it is to do so within your means. These tips will help you stretch your dollar to ensure that you plan a great vacation that you won’t be paying off until next summer.

Plan Early. Begin by creating a budget and determining the minimum and maximum amount of money you can afford to spend overall. Make sure to consider all costs for vacation, including transportation, housing, food, and entertainment. Once a budget is established, begin by contacting hotels or home rental agencies as early as possible so that you have your pick of the most inexpensive options.

Take advantage of last-minute deals. If you have a flexible schedule, finding last-minute deals can often result in large savings. Hotel prices will usually drop significantly to avoid vacancies, and airlines are more likely to drop ticket prices at the last minute in order to fill seats. If a spur of the moment trip fits within your lifestyle, this is a great trick.

Consider low cost vacation options. Surprisingly enough, many exciting summer activities are free, or close to it. Consider a camping trip to the Poconos with family and friends, or visit the nearby Jersey Shore where many of the beaches have free public access. These locations may not appear as glamorous as a destination resort, but they can be equally as enjoyable and relaxing.

Keep an eye out for package deals. If a destination vacation is more your style, thoroughly investigate travel search websites. Often you will find package deals that will combine flight and hotel costs and in many cases, this price is significantly lower than if you were to purchase and book each separately.

Reduce food costs by planning ahead. When you’re on vacation, sit down restaurants tend to have cheaper prices during lunch than at dinner. If you plan to eat out, try to eat your largest meals during the lunch hours so that you can save money in the evening. However, if you really want to save a lot of cash, pack as many meals as you can ahead of time.

Keep these simple tips in mind when planning your summer getaway and a relaxing, guilt-free vacation will be within your reach. Bon Voyage!

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