Wednesday, June 29, 2022

How to be frugal but have fun on vacation

The summer of 2022 seems to be a rebound time for travelers. With so many people having enhanced immunity, either by vaccination, having had Covid, or both, worries about isolating, masking, or getting sick appear to be waning in people’s minds. And, thankfully, a Covid test is no longer required to enter the U.S.

Spiraling inflation coupled with increased interest in traveling, both domestic and international, means prices are increasing for lodging, gasoline, flights, cruises, and more. You still long to go somewhere, but you don’t want to scrimp unnecessarily to the point that staying home is the better option.

So what can you do to make your trip more budget-friendly, to avoid a credit card bill full of vacation splurges? Planning ahead is absolutely necessary, if you hope to be a frugal traveler.

Check your credit card(s) for perks:
If you have hotel or airline credit cards or one of the higher priced preferred cards from major companies, you probably have credits, miles, or points that can be used to pay for lodging, flights, or car rentals. For a week-long trip last spring, we used hotel points for every night that we were on the road, so no extra cash was needed at the time of our stays. We recently returned from a family trip for which flights were booked with credit card points. Hotel upgrades are often available to those with loyalty cards, too. Even if a credit card has an annual fee, the value you receive can easily offset that amount.

Book local:
Often you can find a good deal by booking independent or local hotels rather than national brands. Airbnb or Vbro may provide a savings if you plan to stay more than a week in the same place.

Save on transportation: Car and truck rentals have been in short supply, and these can be expensive when available Prices doubled from May 2020 to May 2021 according to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ride-sharing services have fewer drivers and increased prices in many cases, too.

 If you must rent, try to arrange your itinerary so you only need a rental car for part of your stay. If you’re in a city, plan to stay near attractions you want to visit. A well-located hotel (use those points!) can save money since you can walk to destinations or to public transit. Walking is a great way to slow down and feel the pulse of a city, take an impromptu detour, or explore a new find.  It’s also healthy.

Skip the souvenirs: You probably don’t need a trinket or T-shirt that promotes the place you visited. These lose excitement the day after you return home. If you do need a reminder, try shopping at a grocery store rather than expensive souvenir shops as these often have better prices for the same items. 

Take plenty of photos and make a photo book or video to share with friends later. They will enjoy that more than a refrigerator magnet that doesn’t have meaning for them, and you'll have another dose of fun every time you reminisce about your trip.

Photos by Larry Burmeier and free sources. 

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