How to Stay on Budget During Vacation

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There’s something about being on vacation that causes that average person to throw financial discipline to the wind. All you want to do is enjoy yourself on your trip so you unknowingly overspend on everything from food and drinks to activities and souvenirs. It’s not until the vacation is over and you get home that those expenses hit hard. Getting the finances back on track, causes the stress to pile up, unraveling the good mood your vacation put you in. 

girl water beach playing splash

Rather than have to come home dreading how you’ll get through the next few weeks or stressing over the credit card statements, it’s best to create a vacation budget and stick to it. Below are some tips on how to master this: 

Track Your Spending

You’re aware of how much you have to spend during your vacation, so the best way to stay on budget is to track your spending. There are easy to use resources like charlie financial that will help you to accurately track your spending. As you complete transactions with your credit or debit card, the application will add each transaction to a category and can even deduct this amount from your total budget. You can get reminders when you’re getting close to your spending limit allowing you to prioritize your spending. 

Eat at the Hotel or Rental

Going out to eat while on vacation is common, but doing it three times a day the entire time you’re there can really add up. It is best instead to choose a few days during your trip to eat out and dine in the rest of the time. Many hotels and vacation rentals come with microwaves, refrigerators, and even fully-equipped kitchens where you can prepare meals and save a ton of money. All you need is to locate a nearby grocery store to get the items you need for meals while you’re there.

Another thing worth pointing out is that many hotels and resorts offer free and affordable meal options for their patrons. You may be able to get free hot or continental breakfast or food vouchers to get percentages off dinner and lunch options offered by the onsite bar, restaurant, or diner, so feel free to take advantage of those opportunities and save. 

Pay With Cash

If you’re worried about wracking up a bill on your credit cards perhaps you should use those for emergencies only and pay for everything with cash. This doesn’t mean you have to carry around a bunch of dollar bills in your pocket either as your debit or ATM card is the same as using your own cash. When you pay for things with cash, you’re less inclined to spend haphazardly as you have limited funds to work with. You can even set a daily spending limit to help you stay on budget during your vacation. Once the money you’ve set aside for the day has been used, essentially your spending is done for the day.

Free and Affordable Attractions

Before you spend the bulk of your travel budget on expensive tourist attractions and activities, look for free and affordable options. No matter where you travel to, there are things that you can do that won’t cost you a penny. This includes things like going to the beach, going for a hike in a nearby park, or attending community events.  A great place to find these is the destination’s visitors bureau. You can usually find this info online but most destinations also have an office that you can visit in person for great local advice!

If you can’t find anything free to get into, there are also discounts and deals that allow you to participate in activities at an affordable rate. For example, if you’re traveling to a metropolitan area where there are lots of museums and other attractions, there are discounted tickets known as city passes which can make visiting these destinations more affordable. For one low price, you gain admission to some of the area’s most popular museums, historical sites, monuments, and other popular attractions.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

When you arrive at your hotel or resort don’t be afraid to ask the concierge if there are ways to save money. Their job is to help their guests have the best experience possible meaning they’re going to have information on things you can do for free or at an affordable rate. Whether it’s free shuttle services to nearby attractions or discounts on theme parks, zoos, and museums, you never know what good advice they may have that can save you a ton. 

Vacations are supposed to be an escape from all the stress and drama in your daily life. You’ve worked hard to save enough money to get away. If you go on vacation and spend more than you should, all those good feelings you once felt will fade the moment you get home. Do yourself (and your wallet) a favor and set a vacation budget while also utilizing tips such as those provided above to stick to it.