The success of my last article on whether it was appropriate to take vacations in a bad economy tells me that people are worried, curious, and unsure of how to react to the increasingly bad economic news around us. If you’ve decided that vacations are not something you are willing to give up, regardless of the economic climate, there are a number of general ideas to consider if you are not willing to part with your cash too quickly. Here are a few:
- Consider a stay-cation: One reader last month brought up the idea of stay-cations, or a vacation taken at home. Consider becoming a “home-town tourist” or taking a short drive to your area’s attractions. Human nature says you probably haven’t been taking advantage of the wonderful things closest to you.
- Driving vs. flying: Driving long distances usually comes down to an analysis of whether the cost of gas and maintenance is cheaper than the airfare to get there. But it’s rarely that simple. You have to factor in the extra time it will take you to drive, and if staying for any extended period of time, the cost or savings of having to get a rental vehicle.
- Stay flexible. It’s easy to find your dream vacation and do everything in your power to get it. But what if suddenly the prices double before you’ve had a chance to book? If you’re already emotionally committed, chances are you’ll chase the vacation, not the deal. Stay flexible and look for several alternatives at once to trick your brain into considering many options.
- Compare, compare, compare. Almost nothing is as effective at cutting down costs as diligent and wide-cast research. This includes the Internet, family and friends, travel agents, and as many other people you can think of that have an opinion, experience, connections, or a unique angle of looking at things.
- Plan way ahead, or practice patience. Buying tickets will generally be most cost-effective if done ahead of time. However, if you’re savvy, you can figure out when companies run special deals or packages to entice people to buy. Or wait until the last-minute if your vacation schedule is flexible to take advantage of great “last-minute deals.”
- Find a way to share costs. If family and friends are part of your vacation, there are plenty of ways to share certain costs. For example, the cost of driving (while carpooling) becomes much more cost-effective than flying when multiple people are involved. Hotel costs are also reduced.
- Home exchange. I can’t say I have been brave enough to try it, but if it’s good enough for The Holiday, can it be that scary? It’s certainly a worthy idea for extended vacations if you’re looking to completely cut out big hotel expenses. I would recommend finding a reputable service to use, and not doing it alone.
Whatever you decide, don’t forget to plan and save ahead, and use your vacation for its rightful purpose–relaxation!
Photo by mdanys