Are you off to parts warm or relaxing this March Break?
If you’ve been saving all winter for this trip, it’s important to make the investment worth it.
Just because you’re treating yourself to a break doesn’t mean you should throw financial caution to the wind. Keeping a budget in mind while you travel can mean a lot less stress when you get home. It may also mean that you’ll sooner be able to sock enough away for your next trip. Before you book and while you’re away, keep in mind these money-saving tips.
Pay in cash. When you toss every purchase on your debit or credit cards, you have no idea how much you’re spending. Budget how much cash you will need and spend only what you have on hand.
Use discounts. When you book your flight, hotels, car rentals and even restaurants, find out if any of your affiliations through work and school and memberships in groups such as the CAA can get you a discount.
Get group deals Subscribing to a web-based group deals service can hook you up with low cost hotels and tickets to events. Services such as Wagjag, Groupon and Dealfind cost nothing to join. But don’t just buy stuff because it’s cheap!
Visit the welcome centre. Coupons and money-saving information abound at visitor information centres. Browse the pamphlets and nab anything that offers a discount for hotels, attractions and transportation.
Stay in a suite. Hotel rooms with kitchenettes cost more. But you’ll save a pile by stocking up the kitchen with breakfast supplies, real coffee cream (so you don’t buy a latte when you’re out) and snacks. A bonus: eating breakfast in your room is faster so you’ll have more time to spend out and about.
Shuttle it. When you fly, investigate inexpensive public transport or shuttles to and from the airport. It’s usually half the price of an airport taxi and many cities have reliable, quick transportation programs.
Limit shopping. Do the kids really need a T-shirt with your destination’s logo on it? Fill your trip with new experiences and adventures that will lead to lasting memories and only buy things that you can’t get elsewhere.
Convert. Use a converter app to keep track of monetary conversion rates every time you buy something. That way you’ll know exactly how much you’re spending so you can spot deals and limit impulse buys. Try iFXRates Currency Converter for the iPhone, Converter Plus for the iPad or XE Currency for BlackBerry.
Try off hours. Many attractions offer discount rates for visiting during the week or evenings.
Hit the grocery store. To stock up on snacks for your outings and even the plane, make a visit or two to a grocery store. You’ll get better food at fairer prices than at convenience stores or snack kiosks.
Pack wisely. Make a list to be sure you don’t forget key items and have to buy them while away. Pack a headset, metal water bottle, extra pair of sunglasses and small container of laundry soap — being prepared will save you while you’re away.
Research your destination. Faraway travel can mean scams and rip offs. Read up on where you’re going to learn what tricks might part you from your money when you get there so you can protect yourself.
One more thing: don’t go overboard with the cheap attitude. If you end up torturing yourself and your family to save a few bucks, you risk putting a damper on the whole vacation. Be money smart, not money obsessed, and have a worry-free good time.
Writer for RateSupermarket.ca