Maximize Your Vacation Dollar!

by Jules on August 16, 2013

A vacation is something that every family deserves, but it can be tough to afford. When adding up the cost of housing, food, and even fees for the attraction your family wishes to visit, one may wonder how anyone can afford such a costly excursion. With a little bit of outside thinking, it is fortunately possible for people in even the toughest of financial situations to take a vacation and have a fantastic time.

Eating three meals a day is important for a satisfying vacation, and this can be fully achieved with even the largest of families on a tight budget. To beat the bank on food costs, give a warehouse club like Costco or Sam’s Club a lengthy visit. These stores are sure to be selling a number of quality foods in bulk and will act as the perfect hunger- and quench-satisfiers throughout your vacation. Once you’ve adequately gathered up enough food and drink, load it all into a big cooler and take it with you. Make sure to take all of the contents of your refrigerator, as well, since it would likely be spoiled by the time you came home anyway.

Cutting a few corners and cancelling some unnecessary side trips, like sleeping in those expensive hotels, will save you a tidy bundle of cash. Motel 6 does not offer six dollar rooms anymore. In the twenty-first century, it might as well be called Motel $60.50. Taking a route that takes you near relatives’ homes is a great way to get a place to sleep for the night at no cost. If you have a close relationship with your relatives, this can be arranged by calling them beforehand and explaining your situation. They are sure to empathize and open the door to you with no questions asked.

If you have a not-so-good relationship with your relatives, however, it is best to show up unannounced. This way, they can’t pretend to be unavailable upon your arrival and you can fully guilt-trip them into letting you stay. Before you leave your relatives’ house, be sure to load up on the meal they provide in order to last you and your family for a while. Consider requesting your relatives for a few food items to bring along with you. If they refuse, take a few cans from their pantry while they’re sleeping as quiet revenge.

If staying with relatives isn’t possible, you can choose to sleep in the car. Alternatively, and assuming that the weather permits it, open range is a great way to camp without paying park fees or being bothered by noisy camp neighbors. You can opt to pick up a tent at a surplus store to sleep in. This will offer an adequately spacious and comfortable way for the whole family to sleep tight another night. Security is never guaranteed in nature, though, so just make sure that the tent you buy isn’t red. You never know when the herd will roam through your camp site.

Taking long trips without showering can be an unpleasant experience. Fortunately, open range land is full of small ponds for the cattle to drink from which can be used to wash off in. If there is no water around or your family wishes to use a more modern method, it is still possible to save time and money by stopping at one of the many rest stops on the highway and using the sink to clean up. Wash your hair with the hand soap and blow dry with the hand dryer. If you need to, you can take a roll of towels and toilet paper from here. Enjoy the time inside a place with temperature control and built-in plumbing. You can even take advantage of the extra money saved through doing this by getting a meal from a nearby fast food spot before leaving.

Eating at attractions can often burn a hole into your wallet, but if you still need a way to avoid costs, you can ask restaurant-goers with surplus food if they can spare any leftovers. You might be surprised to find the amount of people who don’t mind sharing the food that they would have otherwise dumped into the trash. If you are in a bustling area, there may even be barely touched food and drink just lying around as if it were waiting to be taken. You may even find completely unopened bags of candy, chips or pretzels that a family simply forgot about. Little kids have a reputation for never finishing their food and leaving the remains spread out on tables everywhere. Grabbing food and drink this way is victimless, simple, and it even ensures that the park will produce less waste on that day.

The dangers of doing this are over-hyped; the fact is that the majority of the meals or drinks you can find will be completely safe for you and your family members to consume. Just make sure to use common sense — use clean silverware and thoroughly inspect the state of the food to ensure that it is, indeed, fresh and nearly untampered with. The general rule is that if you can’t tell or aren’t sure, then don’t go for it. If you badly need a drink but can’t afford it, there is bound to be a water fountain nearby that will ensure you are only getting clean water. If you must drink a used soda, shake it to make sure there is not a stray cigarette butt in it. Most restaurants are non-smoking now, but secret smokers will put their butts in soda cups and cans. Cigarette soda is not good soda. On a busy day, you should be able to stuff enough used food into your backpack to last a significant portion of the return trip home.

When the fun time has ended and it has become time to head back, your relatives may be willing to open their home to you and your family again, but this can’t be relied on – especially if you forced your way into their homes last time and they noticed the missing cans. It may be worth it to instead reward your money-saving efforts by stopping at a nice hotel. Use it for one nice room with all the amenities. After a nice night’s rest on a real mattress, run down to the lobby for the free continental breakfast and stock up for the rest of the ride home. The little milk cartons are perfect for trips and you can use the jelly and butter packets at home. If you can get a check-out extension for no extra charge, do it. You paid for the room, so if check-out is at 11:00 am, then check-out exactly at 11:00 am.

Another often-overlooked way to save money on vacation would be to compare travel health insurance quotes. If, by a bad stroke of luck, you are injured on vacation, your travel insurance can cover pricey medical bills you might recieve while travelling abroad. Read more here.

A vacation on a tight budget may be tricky, but it in no way impossible. If you want to go on a vacation with you and your loved ones but are worrying about costs, stop worrying and go for it. You may even find that the adventures your family experiences in your money-saving efforts will bring you together and create immensely treasured memories that would not have been possible otherwise.

After 5 years backpacking and living in central Asia for a dollar a day, Dany McCloud came back a new man. He spends his time coming up with new ideas on how to be frugal while traveling without spoiling any of the fun. If there is anybody who can give you money saving tips for your vacations, it’s Dany.

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