It’s already the end of January, and you’ve been working out, budgeting like a pro and planning all your meals, right? Whether that’s the case or not, it’s time to think about rewarding yourself with a much-needed vacation. For many of us, spring break is one of the only times of year when the whole family can travel without disrupting school schedules. The only downfall is how costly it can be during peak season. Here’s the good news though – there are a few ways to take an affordable vacation with your family during one of the most expensive weeks of the year.
If you don’t put money into a travel account every month, saving for trips can be challenging. To travel without going into debt, you might need to learn to save in simple ways. My family uses the classic change-jar method. We put loose change from our pockets, purse and laundry into a jar. You’ll be surprised how fast it adds up over the course of just a few months!
There are also simple changes you can make to your everyday routine that equate to big savings. For example, instead of grabbing coffee and lunch out every day, get kitchen-savvy with these copycat recipes and craft your favorites from home. You could also have movie night in instead of going out to the theater, or use a reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic ones. (The environment will thank you for that one, too.)
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Skip the Tourist Traps
The most expensive spring break destinations are fairly obvious – the Caribbean, Florida, Mexico and Las Vegas. Skip these destinations in favor of less touristy, cheaper, family-friendly spots like San Diego; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; Park City, Utah; and Phoenix. If airfare is a struggle, embrace the road trip – especially while low gas prices last. We often drive to Omaha, St. Louis and Oklahoma City. These places are just far enough away that we feel like we’re on vacation, but a short, easy drive from home.
Public transit is another great way to save money on a spring break trip. Most large cities offer it, and though the convenience factor may be lower, it will spare you high rental car fees.
Food is also an easy place to save. When my family travels, we always make sure our room has a kitchenette. Then, we fill it with cereal, snacks and sandwich fixings. For meals out, we do research on sites like LocalEats and ask around to find inexpensive, local treasures.
If you’re searching for affordable accommodations, Airbnb is worth checking out. With their huge selection of homes and rooms for rent, there’s something for everyone. You should also consult Groupon, which often has stellar deals on trips of all kinds.
Your spring break vacation doesn’t have to break the bank. A little resourcefulness and a few months of cutting back are all it takes to get your family on the beach, on the slopes or in a new city this spring!
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens or visit http://communityamerica.com.