I haven’t done a round up of Money Saving Travel Tips for awhile, so here’s January’s edition.
• Look for free things to do at your destination. You can do research in advance of your trip and get a good list going of the area’s freebies, as well as check with the hotel’s concierge front desk. Many museums and other attractions don’t have an admission fee. And don’t overlook the simple pleasures, which often cost nothing at all: watching the sunrise or sunset from the beach, sitting in the park and people watching, a stroll around a lake, or a walk in the moonlight.
• Make a packing list of everything that you’ll need, and use it to pack with. Forgetting a swimsuit or pair of ski gloves at home will lead to an unbudgeted purchase.
• If shopping is part of the vacation trip, set a budget in advance. Know your limits, and set a number that you can afford and live with. Keep all your shopping expenditures within your budget, and you’ll enjoy your vacation a whole lot more. Regrets for overspending can ruin wonderful memories.
• Keep your restaurant expenses in check by thinking about what you are ordering. Appetizers, dessert and cocktails drive up the cost of your meal. Think about whether your really need, or even want, those extra items. If you do, by all means make that a choice, but all to often ordering becomes a habit rather than a conscious choice.
• Beware the cost of alcohol in all-inclusive environments. Many all-inclusive options (cruises, resorts, hotels, etc.) do not include alcohol. Or, it may cover wine at dinner, but nothing more. It’s easy to think that it’s okay to keep ordering from the bar because “it’s not costing you anything,” only to get an unwelcome surprise when it’s time to check out.
• Eliminate or limit international phone calls. I know how tempting it can be to call a friend or loved one and tell them all about the wonderful view of the ocean you have from your balcony. . . and that you are sipping a delicious glass of champagne, while swaying to the lapping sound of the waves. . . or whatever scene evokes jealousy among your group of friends. Smugness like this, while enjoyable, is costly. There are things that you can do to reduce the price of international calls (pre-paid cell coverage, calling cards, etc.), they are still expensive items. If you know that you must make calls home, do so judiciously, and consider an option like Skype.
That’s it for this month. I’ll be collecting tips for next month, so if you have a suggestion, please leave it in the comments or email me directly.