Tips for saving money on vacation

Vacations are meant to be fun and an escape from the normal routine. Look into some simple tips...
(SHNS photo courtesy Kasey Trenum)
Story by Kasey Trenum
(Scripps Howard News Service)
Fri, Jul 6, 2012
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Q: Vacations have gotten so expensive. Do you have any simple money-saving tips?

A: Absolutely! I understand how expensive a vacation can be. At the same time, vacations are meant to be fun and an escape from our normal routines. With that in mind, here are some tips that can help you save a significant amount of money without sacrificing family fun.

Save on food. Food can be one of your biggest expenses, but it doesn’t have to be. A few weeks before your trip, begin to seek out sales on items you know your family will use on your trip. This includes snacks for the road. For example, things like bottled water, soda, sandwich meat and fruit only cost a few dollars each, but they can add up quickly. Consider grabbing your favorite breakfast foods like cereal or oatmeal; you’ll be shocked at how much you save just by eating in for one meal per day.

Eating out is part of the vacation experience for most. Scour the local newspaper for money-saving discounts, coupons and early-bird pricing. If you’ve got young children, many restaurants offer free kids’ meals with the purchase of an adult entree. You can even search by ZIP code at www.outtoeatwithkids.com. Don’t forget your smartphone! Search for nearby restaurants and entertainment in your price range via Yelp and Urbanspoon.

Take advantage of daily deal and discount travel websites. When making your travel arrangements, use websites such as Travelocity and Expedia to find the best deals on hotels, rental cars, flights and area attractions. The more you bundle, the more you save. Daily deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial offer money-saving vacation packages as well as discounts on restaurants, local attractions and spa services. Once you know where you’re going on vacation, start monitoring deals in that city or sign up for email alerts.

Save on gas and repairs. Visit your mechanic and get your car serviced before setting off on a road trip. Have the shop change your oil and check your car’s fluids, belts, battery and tires to ensure you’re getting off to the best possible start. Car repairs are costly, especially when they involve an out-of-town auto shop.

Use GasBuddy.com to find the cheapest gas in the area you are visiting; even saving a couple of pennies per gallon adds up.

Vacations are something we all look forward to; they provide time to be away with family and time to spend focusing on things that bring us joy. Saving money doesn’t have to mean skimping. In fact, with a little preparation you’ll be able to do more while paying less, all the while creating memories for years to come.

For more tips on saving money, go to www.time2saveworkshops.com.

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