Budgeting Money Share Tweet As the weather warms up and spring begins to spring to life a lot more people start thinking seriously about planning their summer vacations. Of course, a big concern whenever you’re planning a trip is the cost, but there are a few easy things to keep in mind when you’re planning (and when you’re there) that can help keep the costs down. When you’re planning remember: 1) Time is money The sooner you start planning your vacation the cheaper it’ll be. Once rooms start to fill up the resorts and hotels can start charging more and more. Not to mention that it will be much easier to get the rooms your want during the part of the summer you want if you start booking those rooms asap. 2) Stick To Your Must Haves Set up a list of “must haves” for your vacation and try to stick to those. It can be tempting once you start shopping around to be swayed by the pretty pictures of luxury rooms but it is a lot easier to look at the price as the main determining factor if you have your list of what you need in front of you. How to save money on a family holiday 2) Certain Dates Mean Higher Rates This one might also be a bit obvious but try to avoid the major summer holidays like Memorial Day, July 4th or Labor Day. The week before and after those holidays tend to be some of the most expensive times to book. Also, if you can manage to schedule your vacation before Memorial Day or after Labor Day you’ll probably get cheaper rates too since those are the holidays that mark the beginning and the end of the summer season. 3) Room Wants Versus Needs Another thing to consider is how much time you’re really planning on spending in your room and what you need to have included in your room. Of course it’s nice to have a huge suite with more than enough space for everyone overlooking the ocean, but if your budget is your primary concern then you should think about other things like would it really be a huge deal if we didn’t have an ocean view? Or would it be a big deal if the kids had to share a room? Not having a room with a view can save you big and, really, you don’t spend much time in your room looking at the view anyway. 4) Location, Location, Location In addition to making sure you’re close to the beach, you should also take a look at the attractions surrounding your hotel or resort. It can mean a lot less time in the car or stress from trying to find your way around an unfamiliar area if there are things to do and maybe some restaurants within walking or easy driving distance from your hotel. You may also want to see where the nearest grocery store or convenience store is too so that you don’t have to worry about a long drive to pick up snacks or extra sunscreen. 5) Amenities Can Save Money If you’re looking to save money and keep the entertainment level high during your vacation, you should make sure to see what kind of additional amenities the hotel or resort offers other than the standard pool. There are some hotels and resorts, that have an entire outdoor pool areas to keep kids entertained, as well as some resorts that have bowling alleys or full-size arcades to offer indoor entertainment. The gist is that you should check out the amenities and see if there are some ways to entertain yourself there. When you’re there remember: 1) Take advantage of discounts Lots of hotels have arrangements worked out with attractions and restaurants to get their guests discounted rates or a certain percentage off. Make sure to keep an eye out for any specials like these or ask the front desk when you check in. You can use these coupons for ideas for places to eat or things to do, if you’ve already hit up all the other must-sees on your list, of course. 2) Pack a Lunch, Snacks Those hot dogs, Italian ices and sodas on the beach or by the pool can really add up so try to avoid falling victim to them by packing a snack or a lunch. But make sure to think about what will sound good when you’re sitting in the sun. It won’t be hard to leave the soggy bologna sandwich in the cooler and reach for a refreshing Italian ice. So try to think about the temptations you’ll be facing and pack something that is similar so you’ll feel satisfied and save money. 3) Avoid tourist traps This one can be tricky since the “tourist traps” can be a lot of fun and convenient but you should think about exploring local options for dinners rather than hit up the places that are right on the beach or right near attractions. Those places tend to be a good bit more expensive and sometimes just aren’t worth the convenience or the view. However this one will be a tricky judgment call for most vacationers. 4) Off Hour Options Some attractions and restaurants struggle to bring people in during the non-peak hours and offer discounts for those who do come in then (like a matinee movie rather than a night showing). So think about hitting up a restaurant during happy hour when they might have good food specials or visiting an attraction in the late afternoon rather than during the middle of the day. In addition, this can also help you avoid some of the crowds and waits at these restaurants or attractions which may not save you money directly but you’ll spend a lot less time waiting in line. These are just some of the ways you can keep the cost of your vacation down to a reasonable rate, but remember to plan for a little overspending just in case. Vacations always cost more than you think they will once everything is added up in the end.