A vacation should relax and refresh you, not provide stress during or afterwards.
Major elements that contribute to relaxation are planning and staying within your budget. Today’s nine tips are aimed at options that allow you to plan your vacation time, estimate and contain costs and enjoy yourself, not having to worry about over-indulgences afterwards.
1. A good start is to explore online deals, say on www.tripadvisor.com and www.expedia.com for example. Such sites present deals on flights, cruises, hotels, car rentals and a range of activities along with various packaged deals. Your choice may be a deal that matches your budget while allowing your funds to do more than you had otherwise planned.
2. Have you ever gone camping? Having children around comes to mind but this can also be a novel activity for grown-ups. Plus, depending on how far away from home you decide to camp, it is fun getting together all the gear and supplies you will need to be comfortable for the time away from home.
3. What about a car trip when exploring new territory overseas? The larger the numbers in your vacation party, the more sense (and fun) it may make to hire a car rather than taking a plane or train trip. By planning ahead, you can seek deals which may offer significant discounts. The Megabus is new and popular in the United States. The return fare between major cities is set at under $10 for a number of cities.
4. Having a specific bank account solely for your holiday spending to which a debit card for meeting your vacation costs is linked, is a formidable way of keeping the spending within your budget. This also avoids building up the debt that would arise from the use of a credit card; debt that is likely to worry you later.
5. Yet, there are significant merits in using a credit card too. A credit card may earn you reward points as you spend. It may also provide insurance coverage for your air trip, for loss of your luggage and for your car rental provided the cost of the related air trip or car rental is charged to the card. The rule is prompt full payment of the credit charges in order to avoid additional interest costs.
6. What about planning a shorter trip – shorter in time spent on the trip as well as in the distance you may wish to go? A trip to Europe for four weeks will normally cost much more that a trip to St Lucia for two weeks.
7. What about sharing your cost/value information online as you go along as well as getting reviews and feedback from social media? Technology allows you to learn from others’ experience as well as to share yours.
8. When staying in a hotel, do purchase your drinks and snacks from a nearby shop rather than raid the in-room bar. It is remarkable how a chocolate bar will cost nearly ten times more when taken from the in-house bar.
9. When travelling in an unfamiliar area, seek advice – information booths, policemen and other security personnel, concierges and such service professionals are there to serve you. Avail yourself of their knowledge. Where is interesting to visit? What are the special activities? Where are the tastier or cheaper places to eat? This free information can make a big difference to your enjoyment while containing costs.
• Louise Fairsave is a personal financial management adviser, providing practical advice on money and estate matters. Her advice is general in nature; readers should seek advice about their specific circumstances. This column is sponsored by the Barbados Workers’ Union Co-op Credit Union Ltd.