By Christina VanGinkel
Not every vacation has to cost a fortune. There are times in our life when we need to get away, to refresh our minds and bodies, and the cash to back up that refreshment is just not at hand. That is when any budget stretcher you can think of should come into play to help you get away. If you cannot think of any budget stretchers on your own, then read on for some great ways to take that vacation even when your checkbook is telling you to stay at home.
Not planning ahead on air travel can sometimes be in your favor. Empty seats cost as much to fly as ones filled with a passenger, so rock bottom discounts for last minute flights can be had.
Even airlines run specials. Not all advertise them thoroughly though, so be sure to ask if they are running any specials, discounts, or deals which you might qualify for. If you are a senior, be sure to mention this, as oftentimes, that fact alone will net you a cheaper rate.
Check the map before booking a flight, and consider flying into a smaller airport nearby. At the least, compare rates, and you might just be shocked at how much this small trick can save you. Be sure to compare the times of day that you are willing to fly also, as it is common for rates to differ depending on the time of day they originate.
The same way that flying into a smaller airport will often save you budget wise, so will staying at a hotel outside of the venue you want to visit. Always take a few minutes to compare rates of various hotels nearby to your destination (this can be done conveniently and quickly online), and do not hesitate to ask if they can give you a better rate than being advertised. For a variety of reasons, such as you will be staying there for several days, or it is already late in the day of your arrival and they have plenty of rooms available, it is the off season, or whatever, ask for a better rate. More times than not, they will offer you something. As before, if you are a senior, be sure to mention this when booking a room, as this may assure you of an added discount.
Ask what amenities each hotel offers too, to help you base your decision on where to stay. If two hotels have the same rate, are in the same locale, but one offers a full continental breakfast, and the other does not, go with the one serving the breakfast to save you on paying out of pocket for that meal each morning.
Be sure to compare other means of travel too. If a train service is available to your destination, check out the rates in comparison to a flight. If you are really looking to save money, and time spent traveling is not of a concern, check out bus fares too. I do not personally recommend bus travel though if your time to take a vacation is very limited, or if you are traveling with very small children that may become bored quickly by the long trip and the confinement. At least on an airplane, the trip is relatively quick, and a train will allow for moving around, and even eating a meal or sleeping quarters.
If you are a solo traveler, consider asking someone to go along and split the costs of things like hotel and cab fares. Be sure that whomever you ask is someone that you can agree to an agenda with though. If you both head into the vacation with very different ideals about the vacation (such as whether you are actually going to vacation together, sightseeing together, going for meals together, etc., or are just splitting the costs of items and each going your own way day to day), it may be more of a stress maker than a stress breaker.
If you are traveling by car, watch the speed limits, as this will really save you on gasoline usage, not to mention avoiding a costly speeding ticket.
Lastly, consider why you want to take the vacation in the first place. If it is really to just get away from it all, and the destination is not as important as the time doing nothing, then consider checking out a vacation spot close to home that will provide you with the needed relaxation minus the hassles of travel.