Summertime…… vacation time……… expensive time?
It doesn’t have to be cost you a small fortune to go on vacation. Here are a few tips that will help you save money this vacation season.
Have a “staycation” and stay at home. Visit the local special spots that you always plan to visit but may normally not have the time to explore. This may be a great time to visit state or national parks. Visit the National Parks Service website to locate parks in your area. http://www.nps.gov/index.htm Check with the visitor’s bureau or local Chamber of Commerce for additional local opportunities or festivals.
Visit a local farm and pick some berries or vegetables. What a fun way to teach your family about how food is grown and enjoy the rich taste of handpicked strawberries.
If you are having that vacation where you “stay at home” – plan some special activities such as camping under the stars, playing yard or board games or taking that day long bike ride, complete with a picnic lunch. Enjoy marshmallows cooked over an open fire or fix a special camp fire meal. Take time to plan your fun filled day. Enjoy this special family time and make memories that will last a lifetime. If you travel to a destination such as the beach or mountains, look for a rental that has a kitchen available. Go to the grocery and pick up easy to fix breakfast items and food for lunches and snacks. Plan to prepare some meals at home. Eat dinner in a few nights during your vacation. Involve the entire family in fixing an easy family meal at your vacation home.
Buy local – if you are at the beach ask the locals where they purchase seafood. Often these “off-the-beaten-path” spots provide you with high quality, fresh seafood at a great price. Take the time to grill or fix the local food for your family. You will save a lot of money by fixing the food yourself. Think of the memories you are also making.
If you do enjoy a meal out, try these tips that will help you save money:
• Go early for specials
• Drink water instead of soda or other beverages
• Split a meal or share a meal between parent and small child
• Enjoy lunch out instead of dinner – you may find you save quite a bit by going out during the day
• Enjoy half price appetizers if they are available. Perhaps you will enjoy an appetizer or two instead of eating an entire meal
If you are traveling out of the area, look for fairs, trade shows or exhibits as fun educational opportunities that may be relatively inexpensive. If you are traveling by air, book early or book very late. If you are flexible on your travel dates, you can sometimes get a great last minute deal. This is difficult to do with a family but it may be worth a try. Visit a website that lets you compare different airlines and their prices.
Packing items from home can also save money. Try these ideas:
• Buy water in bulk or better yet, use a refillable water bottle. If you enjoy juices, pack some individual juice servings for your family. Pack a small cooler with items you want to keep cool.
• Prior to your trip, look for sales on your everyday products. Use samples that you may have on hand – this can be a good way to clean out your cupboards and save money.
• Watch for sales on products such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoos and personal care items. Buy the store brand if it is less expensive. This is a great time to try a store brand with the knowledge that if you don’t like it you can go back to your favorite item at the end of the week.
• Pack snacks for the car so that you aren’t tempted to stop and spend a lot of money at a gas station, restaurant or vending machine. You can often get items in bulk in individual sizes or package them yourself in individual serving bags.
Remember that vacation doesn’t have to be expensive. You can stay at home for that “staycation” or take that special trip and still save money and build memories. Remember the most important thing is the time you spend with your family and loved ones; not the amount of money that you spend. Enjoy your summer!
Writer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, email@example.com.
Sources: National Park Services, Department of Interior. National Park Services. Retrieved June 20, 2012. http://www.nps.gov/index.htm
Pam, T., Chobdee, J. 25 Ways to Save Money, University of California Riverside Wellness. Retrieved June 20, 2012. http://wellness.ucr.edu/25%20Ways%20to%20Save%20Money.pdf
Turner, J. (2009). Vacation Planning: Planning Stretches Vacation Dollars. University of Florida IFAS. Retrieved June 20, 2012. http://fycs.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/mm_v01.htm