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Penny-pinching tips for planning a vacation

Updated on January 28, 2013

10 Penny-pinching Tips for Travelling

The world is closing in on us and everyone wants needs or loves to travel. A vacation away from home is good for the heart and soul. It gives a new perspective on how other people live, what differences and similarities there are between cultures, and most importantly it gives a refreshing view of home. Vacations can be cost effective by cutting out commissions and getting substantial discounts on fares and accommodation. Below are ten tips for penny pinching and stretching the dollar.

Go to Travel Agents

Paradoxically, this is tip number one. Go to at least three travel agents in your town or city. Pick up brochures and ask about travel fares, accommodation types and prices, dining and tourist attractions. Get as much information as possible from the travel agents who have in many cases, traveled extensively.

Learn More about your Destination

Use a reliable Search Engine to bring up websites featuring the country or state you wish to have your vacation at. There are many entertaining and educational websites with heaps of information and pictures of tourist attractions. Save these sites so that you may browse them again with the other people who are going to travel with you.

Jot down the interesting places to visit and the distance away from your vacation city, town or village. Find out about the lifestyle, climate conditions, culture and special holidays of the country or state you are taking a vacation in.

Find out Costs Online

Go into your travel carrier’s website and look up prices and options available. If traveling without kids, consider the overnight flights that are cheaper than the regular day ones. Make sure that there is sufficient time between connecting flights as rushing around and being paged by the airplane can dampen the holiday mood. If traveling overseas check out other travel carriers’ websites as sometimes there are once-off specials like children under twelve travel free with every paying adult.

Also, check for online tickets sold for adventure or theme parks. These tickets are usually cheaper than buying at time of entry itself and reduce queue time.

Look at Accommodation Options

Check out some reliable online accommodation sites and look for availability for your vacation days. Choose sleeping arrangements that you want and meals if required. Compare prices given for Internet booking with the travel agents brochures. You will find that generally savings are large if booking within twenty days of arrival and purchasing online.

Plan your Holiday

By now you may have a ball-park figure of how much the travel and accommodation would cost. Decide on the number of days and the goal of the vacation to ascertain what type of activities will suit each of you. Include enough rest time and use of the facilities at the hotel or motel. Plan a flexible timetable of what you will be doing during your vacation. If catching up with relatives or friends, include time with them.

If going overseas, see your doctor for immunization shots. It is more prudent to spend that money now than to have to spend so much time and money later if catch a disease in a foreign land.

Work out a Budget

Sit down and work out a budget. First write down the amount of money you have set aside for the vacation. Then try to get a rough figure of the total expenses you will need to make. Include costs of travel, accommodation, estimated dining and shopping, and travel insurance if required.

Also estimate taxi or car hire charges and entry fees for the various attractions and buildings. Always include a few hundred dollars for miscellaneous items and have some money in an account that can be easily accessed in emergencies.

Do a quick check of the figures and work out which way the budget goes. If the expenses exceed the income, you will need to save some more for the vacation, or cut back on the length of stay and/or some of the more expensive activities and dining. If income exceeds expenses, which is a good thing, as long as you have worked in a margin in the account for emergencies during the vacation.

Make online purchases

Before doing a credit card transaction, ensure that the websites that you wish to purchase online tickets are reliable. Try to find recommended ones and if unsure, phone the company to ascertain if that website is really theirs. Large airline carriers have their own web-sites, so try to purchase their tickets through those sites and not the others that act as agents. Do not buy online tickets if in doubt about the organization. There are always more reliable ones that are recommended by friends, television and radio travel shows and travel and consumer magazines.

Once all travel and accommodation is booked and paid for, print out invoices and receipts to take on your travel and to check with your credit card statements.

Buy Travel Insurance

If traveling overseas, buy basic travel insurance. This is peace of mind in case of delays and other unavoidable circumstances like falling ill or catching a contagious disease just before travel.

Although travel insurance may be an additional cost it will save you much more if you need to use it. The local automobile association sells them at a nominal rate and so do other house and car insurers.

For interstate travel, use your discretion. To consider if you need insurance weigh up the cost of travel insurance against the length of time, mode of travel and the number and ages of people who will be traveling.

Pack your Luggage

Once you have ascertained the climate conditions of the vacation destination, pack suitable clothes and good walking shoes. If packing for summer, include light, durable and clothes that do not wrinkle. Remember to check if there are laundry facilities at the accommodation venue so that you can pack two or three sets of clothes and recycle them while washing some. If packing for winter, pack light but warm clothes especially thermal underwear. Scarves, gloves and hats are useful as is a warm jacket.

If you have dietary restrictions, pack food that you can eat. Check with the relevant consulates about the restrictions on food entry. Generally processed and sealed foods are allowed, but fresh fruits, some dried foods and organic matter cannot be taken into some states and countries.

If you are on medication, pack your medicines. Get your doctor to give you a letter advising of your special medical needs. Bring along an extra prescription and store it away in a different bag, in case you lose any luggage.

Use discount coupons

While on vacation, always take complimentary maps and tourist brochures. These are usually found in hotel or motel lobbies. They are usually packed with routes, current events and discounts. Use these discount coupons to save on dining and entertainment.

There are various information kiosks or booths in many shopping centers. The information staff are always willing to give information on current events and fun things to do. They also provide discounts and free souvenirs that you can use.

Finally, try to relax and have a happy and safe vacation. Learn new facts, try local foods, make new friends and enjoy!!!


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